Books

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I love memoirs.

As I live this crazy life, as I ride the bumps, take the sharp curves, marvel at the beauty, weather the hardships, as I cry and laugh and pause, I wonder and wonder how we all do it, how other people do it, what their triumphs and weaknesses look like.

People’s stories I want to devour.

I am the woman who finds it a great joy to sit at the foot of an elderly person and become the well that they pour their memories into.

Tell me more, tell me more, tell me more I say.

Since January I’ve read 8 memoirs, all written by women. And they have all given me something; They all now live inside of me. Isn’t that the magic of a story, whether fiction or a life, when it embeds itself within you and changes you, shapes you? Makes you look at things differently?

I brought in the new year with What Falls From The Sky.  I love this book, love the space the author imposes upon herself by going a year without internet. In that space she rediscovers her religion. I think of her and that space and try very hard to create some for myself and dream of what will fill mine.

That space is also explored in The Burn Zone, an exploration into how one falls into a cult. Even after pulling herself out, the author’s life is deeply changed with all the meditation the cult leader had her do and encourages the reader to “invite stillness,”  the one thing she took from her horrendous experience that she didn’t want to lose. I have those words written in chalk upon a small blackboard that sits in our living room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached for my computer only to see those words and I just sit still instead.

From A Life Of Her Own I’ve meditated on the bigness of it all, this human journey, the chapters that veer and the ones that come back around. This memoir showed me that no matter how perfect or successful a life seems we all have our struggles, our deep terrible losses. Such a good reminder in this day of cropped lives that fit so neatly into little boxes.

Inheritance was a profound read to me as an adoptive parent. What makes us who we are? Who creates us? What defines us? What is nature to us, and where does nurture erase, or blur those lines ?

Sick was a page-turner for me. I am now completely terrified of ticks. I also realize how important it is–especially for women–to demand care when you know you need it.

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone is a book I desperately didn’t want to end and will probably read again. My goodness how flawed we all are. How deeply we all want to be loved. How random life can be and how “it ain’t over till it’s over.”

I just finished Love You Hard. My God, this book. Another I did not want to end. It’s a tragic and beautiful meditation on love. As the author listens over and over and over again to her husband’s memories as he tries desperately to reassemble his past after a horrific brain trauma, she writes, “The story of his life is now imprinted on my soul.” Just as her story is now imprinted on mine.

And of course I had to read An African Love Story. This memoir sent a deep longing into me to experience Africa in a way I never can. In this expat life we live in bubbles, are dropped in, sealed off,  and as much as we try and make air holes we are still encased, watching from within our own worlds, worlds away from the one we are in.  While it is amazing in its own way, to see the world and live for a moment in time in places I only dreamed of, I would do anything to take a time capsule to spend just one day as Daphne Sheldrick, in the wildest parts of this country, surrounded by elephants. To see and experience Kenya through her eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya

_YGN3020Sometimes you need to reach up and take hold of a hand that is offered.

I’ve missed this space.

It’s been almost a year since we landed in Kenya. It’s been almost a year and we are headed home, back to my island paradise. 

I have so much I want to share. I have so much I want to get down, capture, to remember. I’ve been wanting to write…

It’s been a hard year. A wonderful year. A year that has taught and tested and will be wrestled with for a while. 

So many words and so many stories and such full days and such tired nights and I’ve felt so far from this, from myself…..

…and then….

I got the loveliest message; I was given a hand to bring me out of my head and back into the world to write, and share. 

A poet. A poet named Joel reached out and gave me his hand.

He wrote for me. Inspired by me. And now I am inspired by him. 

Thank you, Joel.

Thank you for your hand, and this beautiful poem. 

 

The Whisper (For Sabrina Lloyd)

Sometimes the world calls us out beyond ourselves, it leans over the fence of our comfortability, gets right down next to our ear
and whispers,

‘There is more. There is always more for you.’ She heard it, the call, the whisper, the invitation. Not just once,

She heard it again and again and again.

So she left what once was,
dreamed of a different life,
walked a different way,
one not bound by expectation.
This woman walked the globe,
Became a Mumma, not once, but twice, She has left place after place,

Moved from comfort to the uncomfortable Over and over.

And you would think by now this should be easier,
But it never is,
This walking out into the unknown, Or settling into the ground, Giving of oneself to that whisper.
No body made a blueprint, or a map.
She was given a compass though,

deep inside,

the direction to move, if not the path to follow. She makes her path, carves her way forward,
Like the blind woman,

she has learnt with a new sense,

to be guided and inspired. So yes, it may not be easier,

but would you have it any other way? When the wind came and whispered,

would you have ignored her,

told her to move on and whisper in somebody else’s ear. You cannot, would not, have not

And so it is now and it is always now,
the choice to embrace once more the call and the adventure.

It is now and always now,
when the pain grows in ones feet, even as the heart knows,
even as the lungs breath,
even as the world crumbles,

It is now, ever now that one must listen, again to the whisper,

but more,
listen to the inner calling, the inner voice,

For this is the voice that has been whispering all along, You can trust her. Yourself. You can trust her. You can wrap yourself around her soft edges. You can stand on her strength.

You can hold yourself open and believe that everything, everything, everything, everything comes together into the one glorious human that you are. Your past, your present, your future. You are threaded together, all together to be you. Trust her. You can trust her.

– By Joel Mckerrow ~ 9th April 2019 ~ Melbourne Australia

 

Home is where….

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We’ve always traveled with all of our things. Our home shut up in boxes, shipped across oceans, unloaded and unpacked, bringing our memories and comforts with us. This is the first time we have traveled empty handed, leaving our home intact upon our island. 

It’s an interesting feeling to try and settle somewhere while leaving your home in full bloom seas away. 

In this new age of minimalism, of having less, maybe we need the little we hold onto even more? I have certainly shed with each incarnation, boxes falling by the wayside, things stolen, discarded, and I fully embraced Marie Condo’s wisdom of keeping only that which sparks joy. 

But it’s so much more than joy. It’s our life, tied up, sewn into, bound in our things. 

Some mornings on the island I would wake up before my very early rising children and sit as light sprinkled the dawn and I would be so moved by the beauty all around me. What we, what I had created. Little things, like the plants I nurtured and loved that grew alongside of me. Plants that are still there, being tended to by a friend. Plants I could not let go of.

The rugs I bought while living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan as a young actress, so free and so wild, softening the floors beneath my feet.

The yarn painting hanging above our bed that I got at a Huichol Indian retreat on new years eve 1999, when everyone worried the world would end and I danced in the dawn.

The small metal sculptures of a man and woman I got in Santa Fe with a friend that sit upon our bookshelf. The same friend who would take me to Belize where I would meet a boy who would become the man that became my husband. 

Our things are our memories. 

It’s why I keep this blog, to remember. 

Now I sit in Kenya without my memories next to me, connecting me, threading me to my past. 

I am happy they are still on that mountaintop, waiting for me, for us. 

But my feet feel lonely. The walls feel bare. The bookcase sits empty.

 

Nesting

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This tiny bird has built a nest outside our bedroom window. For two days I watched her fly up with bits of fuzz, twigs, slowly building it. She’s in there now, laying her eggs, or perhaps they have been laid and she is with them, waiting.

We’ve been in Nairobi for just over 2 months now. I feel like this little bird, building our nest, the fragility of this expat life, just hanging by twigs it seems until we abandon it, leave for the next building up. Suspended time. 

I miss my island. Of all the places we could have landed though, Kenya is a soft one. 

We live in a valley surrounded by gardens, in a compound of twenty gorgeous stone homes. We have neighbors to borrow milk from. A playground where kids gather. A community to feel safe in. 

We had a monkey in our bedroom. We now keep close watch on the windows. 

It’s colder than I expected. Even now that the sun is stronger and warming the days, the evenings and nights can ride on a crisp wind. 

My daughter just had a week long school trip to the foot of Mount Kenya. She went on safari, helped a local school paint a mural, planted a garden for a woman and her child from a nearby village. She came home talking of the milky way and poverty and sunsets over mountains.

My son is over-the-moon to be here and loves the African way of life, with people coming and going and drivers and gardeners and guards and I watch him soaking up every moment. 

It’s funny how they surprise you. I thought it would be my son who missed the tranquility of home. I thought my daughter would spin into the chaos like a dance. But it’s she who watches the stars and thinks of currents and snow covered trees and he who is swirling. 

And me, I am this little bird, tending to my nest, keeping everyone warm, hanging on.