Be

I believe there are times when life moves through me with such speed that I forget why I get up each day. Yes, there are days when I rise as scheduled and sleepwalk from moment to moment. In the next two weeks, I will attend two weddings, one birthday celebration, three soccer games, and one funeral. In a 14-day span, I will laugh, I will undoubtedly cry, I will cheer at the top of my lungs, I will be angry, and I will experience such blissful joy that I am again, moved to tears. My soul will be joyous, my heart will ache under a black dress, and my head will again come to know that life moves through us all, it’s fluidity an undeniable gift.

I do not know if I am prepared for this lesson, to appreciate the precious gift we have each day. It seems a bit difficult to appreciate life when mourning a man whose own life ended far too soon. I am feeling many emotions this week. A bride-to-be excitedly glows as we chat in anticipation of her big day. Hours later, grief glazes Danny’s eyes as his uncle’s final days flitter in the space between us. I seem to wear everyone’s emotions lately. I simply cannot avoid it. It is who I am. It is in my nature of being.

Perhaps it is a gift that I can find a piece of myself in others’ feelings and experiences. We all – sooner or later – try on these different hats of emotion as we experience life. Each one of us feels the same feelings eventually. Joy, sadness, grief, nervous anticipation… the list goes on. As new beginnings and abrupt endings course their way through us, we live every emotion, each day, every one of us.

As few of you know, I began a journey back in the spring that has led me to creating a story for my son to read one day, when he is ready. In this story, I relive experiences in my young adult life that perhaps he will relate to, maybe even find relief in knowing. I explain to him that all emotions are okay. The ups and the downs are good and healthy and human. Bliss and grief and happiness alike – in our own way, we feel it all in time. I write to him,

“Your sadness, I have felt – though perhaps not today.

Over lifetimes, trust me

We all feel the same way.

Be present with it all.

That is the lesson.

That is the gift.

Be with each moment.

Now is your time.”

 

For whatever you are celebrating, or grieving, this moment offers you a chance to feel the experience of being alive. Whether you are high, or have fallen so low, those around you are here now to guide you through. As you wake each day, step with risk – and land with trust. You were created to feel it all.

It is time to be who you are.

You are loved.

-Ki

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Thanks to Mark Nepo for guiding me daily.

And to a lovely friend who says I think too much and should just be… you’re right. Thank you for being honest with me always.

 

The good hurt

He just keeps running from me

A little bit more each day,

Our hands held one moment less today,

Our giggles lasting a minute shorter,

And I keep thinking, how do parents willingly do this every day?

It never gets any easier

Letting go.

I don’t understand this constant cycle

My baby boy walking and talking,

Hilarious and wise,

Laughing and stepping into moments

Apart from me and dad.

But I smile and clench the tears,

Biting lips until the coast is clear

And it’s okay to cry.

He’ll never know how good it hurts

To be his mom.

lucas on bridge

I’m exhausted. I don’t know how some moms do it… the ones with multiple. Hell, even the ones with just one, like me. My dog is staring at me like I forgot to do something, which I probably did. You do lose your mind after having kids… that is a fact. I look forward to this time of day though. 2PM. Nap time, or at least I think he’s napping. If he’s playing quietly, I’m okay with that. I just need a break. I can’t believe he’s leaving tomorrow. The next chapter begins, and I’m not quite sure I’m ready.

As I’m sitting here, eyes heavy from the early mornings, I know I need a break. Some days I pray for a relative to call and say he/she is on the way to steal Lucas for the day, but as I stare at the calendar above my bookshelf, I can’t help but feel the nerves swell and swirl in my belly. It’s time to let him go a little bit more. Preschool starts tomorrow.

This is how it goes though, I guess. The day comes when we need less of one thing, and more of another. There are periods of time, months, years, even decades when less of ‘this’ means discovering more of what is next on the list. I’ve had 4 years of unconditional Lucas, 4 years! An abundance of love, growth, challenges, and blind hope, on-call and alert 24/7… and it’s time I need a little less in that direction. It’s time he needs a little less of his momma’s helicopter love. Yes, I can admit I hover. It’s time we both work on ourselves, our own individual paths, apart from each other.

A little less time together doesn’t mean we will love any less, and it sure doesn’t mean he’ll forget me (though I worry). A little less will bring a little more of what we both need, whatever that may be. No, I don’t know where exactly my life is headed. I don’t know what is next. I don’t know Lucas’ path or how he will walk it. But we’re moving and learning and growing together, supporting each other.

There’s a lot I don’t know, and I’m relieved to say that. What I do know is that life is a beautiful cycle of less this and more that. It is certain to happen that ‘the plan’ of what life ought to be always blooms into what my soul knows it will be. Do our lives ever go ‘as planned’ anyway?

I hope you begin to see that every moment is beautiful during times of change and uncertainty. Just because you can’t see what’s next doesn’t mean something magical isn’t happening right now. Look for the good. Hope for magic. Open yourself to every step along the way. We all go through this. Trade less for more, more for less, let life move through you. Be fluid, be in the moment. Trust that in weathering this change, what is next will be more beautiful than you could ever have imagined.

Sooner than later, we find the answers. Keep going.

Ki

I’m getting better at it

My son is a little Buddha — a tiny guy with a big belly and an even bigger heart. I first started the ‘little Buddha’ joke when I noticed skin playing peekaboo from underneath his t-shirt. All parents go through this with their children. Growth spurts ignite the dreaded ‘in between sizes’ phase. One day the shirt fits, the next… sheesh! All you see is belly! We laugh together as I tickle the exposed part of his belly, and that was it for a time.

Suddenly, I find that my once lighthearted reference is now quite a fact: my son is a little Buddha, wise with untainted knowledge and insight, a being capable of unmatched love and compassion. Over a cup of hot chocolate one chilly morning, Lucas eyed me and sternly voiced his concerns.

“Mom… if you give me too many pieces of your heart, you won’t be alive.” He smiled, wiggled in his chair, and continued sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows.

(Cue shivers up the spine) — I mean good god!! What?? How did our conversation shift from Tuesday morning cartoons to the challenges of parenting?? I smiled in silence and stared at the Crayola craft table that separated me and the enlightened being who cheerfully scanned my face for a reaction. I was baffled. Mute and dumbfounded. And as any other over-thinking parent would do, I fell into the depths of introspection.

Am I giving too much of myself? Do I love him too much? Can he sense my anxiety? Does he know I’m exhausted? How does he KNOW these things? Does he know I’m a people pleaser? Can he read the worries on my face? Can a three-year-old know and comprehend the idea that pleasing everyone first leaves little time and energy for oneself?

Well, he’s figured out the secret to life.

He is right. Every word is the truth: If you give too many pieces of your heart, you won’t be alive. His words scared the hell out of me and ignited tears, so I politely excused myself from our hot chocolate date. Perhaps they were tears of relief. Perhaps they were tears of joy. I’m not sure. Perhaps I cried for all of the moms and dads who undoubtedly face this issue: when we give too much of ourselves, we (and those closest to us) suffer the most.

To say I struggle with this issue is an understatement. I am consumed with balancing my well-being and that of my family, friends, and blog readers. I am plagued with a hunger to tend to everyone else first. I’m convinced it is engrained in my DNA. I want to ease pain, fix everyone and every tough situation that arises. I smile and tend to others before giving a thought about me and my needs. Motherly instincts remind me that every waking moment with my son is an opportunity to teach, play, learn, and explore. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I sit at the computer replying to emails from friends and new readers of mine across the globe — advising, listening to, and easing others before I’ve showered, eaten, even used the restroom! I am obsessed with helping others; it consumes me; and I think Lucas sees that. I know he does.

I know he suffers because of it. I know he hurts inside when Mommy is stressed and on edge. I know he vibes off of that, and in knowing this, I have a choice. I can keep going, keep doing, keep helping, keep tending to everyone and everything and risk becoming worn down by life and living and caring. I could walk on this winding road for years. I could. I know this road quite well. It’s beautifully paved with exhaustion, sleepless months, and anxiety. But it’s familiar.

Or I could slow down. I could put a pause on all of it. I could prioritize my health, my family, and my goals. I could tell my readers that I need some time to respond. I could take a moment to realize how absurd it truly is to worry about everyone else first before myself! I could toss the selfish feelings aside and go to the gym. I could turn off my phone and reply to emails in the morning. I could go for a walk with my son, and leave everything else in the back of my mind for an hour. Yes, I could do that.

And I am. I am spending much less time blogging, connecting, Skyping, pleasing, helping, etc. and more time focusing on my health and well-being. It feels strange when I choose an afternoon at the gym, but my body thanks me afterward. It feels selfish to spend an hour juicing veggies when I could be practicing counting to 100 with my son, but my spirit thanks me afterward. Sometimes it feels like a waste of time to lay in bed with that book I’ve been itching to read when I could be cleaning and washing dishes. But my mind thanks me afterward.

I wonder if other people are like this? I wonder if people-pleasing is a disease? I wonder if others suffer from it as I do? I wonder a lot about these things. I wonder if it’s curable? I wonder if it’s a plague or a gift? I wonder if it’s possible to live in the Now if I’m constantly caring for others? I wonder what it will take to truly put myself and my needs first? I wonder if hearing my son’s insight is the moment that I need to wake up?

I wonder, what is your moment? When will you wake up and take care of yourself first? I’ll be (less) anxiously awaiting to hear from you guys 😉

Take care, be well, do something for yourself today. Slow down — the world will be here when you get back.

 

xo,

Ki

 

Photo: @redxluckyxcharms

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Who are you?

My name is Kiley. I was born on December 6. I am a left-handed Sagittarius. I write poetry. I love coffee. I cry during previews at the movie theater. I laugh by myself often. I have an obsession with touching trees as I pass them. Talking to strangers is my greatest fear…. And biggest source of intrigue. I love the idea of traveling, but familiarity soothes my soul. When I say I enjoy ‘being alone’ what I really mean is that I want others to be around me, just quietly. All of these qualities describe me… and yet, they don’t.

These things are not who I am. None of the ‘things’ you say define you, either. We are very good at convincing ourselves of who we are. These qualities are, in fact, just thoughts, just tools used to label ourselves, to separate ‘us’ from ‘them.’ So who are we? Who, or what, is underneath every thought that we have? Does anyone really know for sure?

What if we came to accept that none of us knows anything about who we truly are? What if we dropped all labels that we use to separate ourselves from others … and we simply existed, together? What would the world be like then?

Tell me – who are you? Who is that being beneath all labels, beneath all thoughts? Can you answer? Ideas come and they go, but what is waiting there between each thought? The mind is a powerful tool. It tells you that you are a parent, you are Caucasian, you are a college graduate, you are an employee, a nurse, a brother, that you are happy, you are worried, you are anxious, you are sad, you are a baker, you are a politician, you can’t afford that trip, you are incapable of writing that book, you are unworthy. It tells you who you are and how to be that person. And most of us listen. We obey. We succumb. Why do we assume that these labels define who we truly are? Why are we at the whim of what our minds tell us? Do you realize that your mind has been conditioned since the moment you were born? From your first breathe, you were told who you are and given a name with which you identify. And what if, today, you quieted your mind…

What if your mind was silent and didn’t tell you who you are today? What is left? Who is there reminding you to breathe?

It is quite a mystery to me. Maybe I am the mystery. Maybe you are a mystery. The truth is that there is something magical that lives in each of us that is indescribable with human language. It lives and grows us each day. Whatever it is, it is strong, resilient, magical. Whatever it is, it lives in us all. Don’t forget that the next time you are quick to judge another person, or hurt another person. What is in him is in you too.

Keep asking the tough questions. Let’s be puzzled by what seems obvious. Never stop searching for the answers.

With compassion, we grow.

xo,

Ki

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The ‘little’ things

Sometimes you ask for a snack before bedtime. I know what you’re doing, and for whatever reason, I give in, let you eat whatever I’m not too tired to throw together. Your belly has impeccable timing, you know that? It always knows exactly when I’ve retired for the night, hung up my apron of motherly duties, and just about closed up shop. At that precise moment, it alerts you to be my final customer. I bet you don’t know why I do it, do you?

I know you’re not hungry, I know you won’t eat it, whatever it may be, but somehow I’m flattered that your little belly ‘wants me to feed it’ one last time. This is an invitation no momma can refuse. To steal ten extra minutes from the day in which no one else gets you, but me?! I’m sold. And you know what? I’m really not mad when you don’t eat the bedtime snack, I just pretend to be disappointed because that’s what parents do.

I’m quite fond of the sound your little feet make when you prance down the stairs one last time. I melt at first sight of the extra twinkle in your eye when you lay on the charm and ask for the snack we both know you won’t eat. You may think you’ve won extra minutes past your bedtime, but the real winner of this little game we play is me. Only I can recount these memories no one else shares but us. The sound of your singing and giggling as I smear jelly atop warm toast and dance to a made-up jingle we’ve composed together. The shake of your rump as you incessantly demand, “Watch this Mommy, watch this!!” The way my belly flutters after you’ve nibbled your snack and whispered, “You’re the best nest, Momma.” Or a personal favorite of mine, “Hey babe, I love you.”

These moments we share remind me what living feels like. It is you who taught me how to laugh with my belly until I’m blue in the face. It is you and your rock-out moves who taught me how to dance to the rhythm of my own silent, and possibly insane, drum. And truthfully, I can’t begin to thank you enough. I just can’t tell you these things now because then you would know how much I look forward to your ‘bedtime snack plea’ and the silliness that ensues. I can’t tell you all of my secrets now, can I?!

I’ll just keep on pretending to hear that little growl in your belly as we giggle and sing in the kitchen together, dancing past your bedtime…

….because that’s what momma’s do, and oh how truly grateful I am to be yours.

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Every moment is precious, and with gratitude in my heart, ‘the little things’ are no longer little — but rather monumental occasions in which my heart is wide open and ready to receive what is happening right now. Ready to receive, and ultimately softened.

Be open to everything as it is right now. This moment you are in is truly perfect.

Allow yourself to see it as such. This is where living begins.

Embrace it all

Got a call this morning that left me shaking, shivering underneath my skin, rattled to the bone. It’s that day we don’t think will come, but undoubtedly sneaks up to the front door, rings the doorbell so loudly that we can’t avoid the impermanence of life anymore. I feel a bit numb, but the current of tears, the swell of insane laughter will soon ebb and flow throughout this house again soon, any minute now actually.

Yep, those tears of worry and the insane laughter that follows. Tears of fear that cleanse my soul and allow room for laughter at the absurdity of worrying. The down down downness dancing with the up up upward, only to fall again in the unanswered questions of this uncertain and impermanent life. It is a magical swirl of emotions I feel today, all because of one phone call.

What makes a person healthy? Are we healthy because of how our bodies feel or because of what our minds tell us? I’d say I’m quite healthy! My body feels great, my mind is in training with the help of yoga, meditation, running, green juice, breathing, mommying, loving…. So why is it that we suddenly feel sick when ‘the call’ comes that ‘something’s not quite right’? Why does the worry kick in? Why does the mind dwell on the ‘uncertain, not-quite-rightness’?

The call arrived 4 hours ago, I cried, I worried, I Googled, I cried some more, and now? I’m writing to you guys. All I could think of to do was write. Write it out. Write the feelings, let it flow, put life into this post, put feelings out there into the world, feelings of grief, feelings of uncertainty, and feelings of hope, love, warmth – all of which we ALL feel sooner or later. This life is wild, I can’t even begin to describe this day to you all. One moment up, and the next? Plummeting. Uncertainty, impermanence, that’s all I can say right now. Embrace it. Befriend it. Trust it. They are all around us. The unknown is with us every day, but don’t let it scare you, don’t let it worry you, embrace it. Embrace the questions, the fears, embrace the love inside of you that keeps you going today.

What a day to get less than wonderful news. But you know what? We all get those calls, the ones that don’t sing in our favor.

What a beautiful day to start living again. What a day to welcome life. What a day to just say to you all that I’m scared, I’m uncertain, but it won’t stop me from living, and I hope your uncertainties don’t stop you either. ‘Bad news’ is only as bad as you allow it to be. The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ are a part of our experience. No one can avoid the low moments, we all go through them. It’s okay to experience them, to be scared, but remember that you are alive today, this moment, and all of these moments smashed together – the ‘good’ and the ‘bad,’ are evidence of your life….

Evidence that you’ve lived

Evidence and proof that you can get through this, whatever it may be.

Sending strength out there, to you guys. Keep going, it is such a beautiful life. Don’t waste too much time worrying. Embrace everything in the world – it is all there for YOU!

Remember your breath, remember your life, and remember to be grateful for it all.

 

Thoughts on ‘being a writer’

Some mornings

I spend hours in my head

Writing poems

Dancing with singed hearts

And kissing strangers.

 

Some afternoons

I sip lukewarm coffee and eat

Sour candy,

Talking to myself,

Spewing thoughts onto penned paper,

Daydreaming of editors

Fancying my plight

To be a writer.

 

Oddest occupation —

Fictionally, speaking.

No wonder

I crave touch

So desperately

The only true affirmation

Of my life’s work.

I hear you, they say.

I know.

 

Silent speaker of the world

I am

Sickly mind squashing

Courage

Hungry to try again, sometimes,

Provided inspiration.

 

Lazy, perhaps

Weird, perhaps

Maybe definitely special

They say.

Maybe.

 

I am a writer

Head inside a dream

Come true,

Or is it?

Keep going

Give a damn. Give lots of them.

What you are doing is important.

Who you are is beautiful.

What you are feeling is just.

Feel it all. Feel everything that comes your way.

It’s okay. Let it all move through you.

Sit with it. Sit with your experience. Learn from it.

What you care about in your gut – hear it, dance with it, taste it, feel it.

FEEL * FEEL * FEEL.

Keep going.

Sometimes I look at the goals I’ve set for this year and think,

“You’re insane, Ki. These things will never come to fruition.”

But dammit! They will! All of it will happen.

And you know what? It will happen for you too.

My best advice for every day:

If you need help, ASK FOR IT.

If you want love, BE IT.

If you miss someone, SCREAM IT OUT TO THEM.

If it feels right, DO IT.

There is never time to waste wondering.

Keep going. Just keep going. Every day.

Every moment.

 

I thank the many people who inspire me DAILY. Today is my oldest sister’s birthday. Not long ago, she followed a dream, quit her job, started a non-profit animal rescue… and LIVES, BREATHES, WORKS EVERY DAMN DAY pursuing this dream, caring for countless animals, and saving lives. She gave a damn about her dreams. She gave a damn about the world. She kept going and is one of the most passionate people I know personally. She continues to push through it all. She inspires me every day.

Thank you, Katie. I love you. What you do is important. Who you are is wonderful. What you give back to the world is priceless. I know all of those animals thank you for your hard work, dedication, and love. Us humans thank you too!

If you’d like to donate to Katie’s non-profit rescue, All About the Paw Pet Rescue, click HERE.

Happy birthday, Katie! And happy dreaming to the rest of you. Keep going.

Cheers to you, my wonderful readers.

Light and love to you ALL.

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My every day

Forget the cake

And the flowers

Forget the cards

None of that matters

It’s you that makes this day so special to me

beach

I feel it in the warmth of our morning snuggles

And your eagerness in waking with the sun

It’s the moment you say I’m ‘beautiful and pretty’

Conveniently when you want something sweet to eat

It’s your honesty in telling me I have a terrible singing voice

It’s your obsessive, compulsive habits like your dad **cough, and me**

It’s our secret missions

And the lessons you teach

The inside jokes

And the subtle looks we give each other from time to time,

Our unspoken language

It’s our silent walks

trees

And afternoon talks

It’s the way you laugh when I speak in funny accents

It’s the shape your eyes make when I tell you I have a surprise for you

It’s the way your little hand fits perfectly inside of mine

It’s the shrill in your voice when I agree to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

One last time

It’s our spontaneous dance parties to music daddy hates!

It’s the late nights

And early mornings

It’s the sound of you snoring

sleeps

And the smell of your snuggly head when you first open your eyes

It’s in your “Please and fank yous”

It’s the way you talk yourself through tough situations

And your personal mantra, “I’m breathing,” when you’re scared

I hear it in your giggles when daddy makes you laugh

And in the songs you sing when the radio is on

It’s in the tears we both shed, and wipe for the other

And your concerns as to why Mommy is sad sometimes

It’s your courage

courage

And your strength

It’s the shape of your little hips

And your almond eyes, like mine

It’s in your incessant questions

And curious mind

It’s the sound of your laughter when I pinch just above your knee

It’s the way my heart feels funny when you leave

And the way I feel in this moment,

Holding back my tears.

It’s the comfort in knowing that parenting you is the greatest privilege I’ll ever have

And my greatest accomplishment as a human being

It’s the pride I feel in beginning our story at age 19

mommy and lucaman

And continuing on a path of happiness, health, and unconditional love with you by my side

And Lucas, it’s all of you that makes all of this day and every day

So special.

 

Mother’s Day is my every day

And for that, I am grateful.

I love you thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much,

Big hugs to you, my little man.

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To all my friends who ask about the book

I don’t want to say it

Because when you say things out loud

Then people know what you’re up to

Which is terrifyingly awkward

When they don’t give you the reaction you’d

Hoped for

 

That’s the problem with hope

And expectation

They always leave your stomach gurgling

With embarrassment,

Grit and grime left on your teeth

After you choke on reality

And belly your illusions once again

 

So I’ll whisper what it is I’m doing

With my eyes

The way I bite my lip

The incessant brush of fingers through my hair

When you ask me ‘how I’m doing’

And what I’ve been up to lately

 

Can’t you see

Right here

Right now?

This

Is my answer.

 

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Stay tuned

Cheers, readers.

 

Life is the meditation — let's be present for it all