Astonished

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

–Mary Oliver

So much of my life has been training in the simple but extraordinarily challenging art of paying attention. Showing up, moment by moment, in the present and seeing clearly what is before me. Breathing into the empty space. Finding ground in the groundlessness. Falling deeply in love with my life. Finding myself in a state of wonder and amazement at how profoundly beautiful it can be to ride around the sun in a broken/healing body, in a community of others who are doing the same.

As I reflect on my life over the past year, I feel so deeply grateful. My path has taken me to some amazing places, and I have met delightful people. I caught my hundredth baby earlier this year. I was present at the births of over 110 babies, and labored with dozens more women, including assisting in almost 40 c-sections. I have traveled to beaches and deserts and islands, capturing some lovely photographs along the way. I have met some folks who will be lifelong friends. I fell in love with a woman whose presence makes my life richer and more delightful.

Last year, at the beginning of the year, I chose a word that I hoped would encapsulate the year 2014 for me: delight. I bought some large wooden letters that spelled out the word and put them on my bedroom wall. This word is the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing that crosses my mind when I go to sleep. Meditating on how to make my life more delightful has caused me to seek out relationships and experiences that help cultivate more delight in my world. I can say without a doubt that focusing my attention on what I wanted to grow and how I wanted to feel (rather than many new years resolutions, which focus on what folks want to get rid of, like losing weight or quitting smoking) has been a beautiful process.

The word “delight” is staying on my wall. Nearby, I am going to add another, my word for this year: “Home.”

Home is a concept that has remained elusive to me for a couple of decades now, ever since I abruptly had to evacuate the country I knew as my first and only home when I was ten years old. I have come to understand that home is a sense that I feel when I am fully present in my body and in my life, rather than being a purely physical place that I come back to after a long day at work. Home is the way I live in the world. Home is how I inhabit my space. Home is the quality of presence I bring to every facet of my life. Home is the relationship I am building with my new love. Home is how I embrace the stories that make up my past and bring all of myself fully into the present moment. Home is accepting my perfectly imperfect, never-not-broken self. Home is creating a sense of safety for myself so that I can explore my edges.

Home is being a person that others can come to when their lives are crumbling around them. Home is celebrating with people whose lives are delicious. Home is finally, finally, feeling like there is a place for me in the world, like I belong here, like I am a part of all that is.

Home is a long walk through a damp forest and feeling the trees breathe me. Home is sinking into a tub of warm water and allowing my whole body to release. Home is a tender caress, the warmth of skin touching skin, the feeling of a beautiful new baby in my arms (just for a moment, before I had her to her parents where she belongs). Home is gratitude for all of the beauty that fills my life. Home is giving myself space to feel all the feelings that come up when working with people who can have really challenging lives (domestic violence, drug use, cancer, pregnancy loss, homelessness, and mental illness are all issues I’ve helped people deal with this week alone). Home is self-care to combat the effects of vicarious trauma. Home is planning for my future, for my own family, for the life I want to live. Home is working for justice so everyone can life a life where they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Home is being my whole self and living an authentic life true to who I know myself to be, even if it means that some people will not accept me. Home is writing down my stories so I can share them with the world.

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

Sounds like a good way to start the new year.

One thought on “Astonished

  1. Pingback: A Thousand Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Ground | The Mindful Midwife

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