Everyday life is a practice and a poem

Everyday life is a practice and a poem.

These words came to me on Friday in a yoga class.  My first yoga class in more months than I can count.  My body remembered the poses like some deeply known but forgotten language.  My mind ran and ran, occasionally settling into a thought, and this one came back, over and over: every day life is both practice and poem.

A practice and a poem.

Dinner with two old, dear friends.  Drive home in the icy darkness.  Say goodbye to Matt as he leaves for a weekend with his father and brothers.  Refill three heavy humidifiers, lug them up flights of stairs, watch the steady stream of moisture puffing into the darkness of the childrens’ rooms.

Kiss Grace and Whit good night.  Linger over my newly-minted six year old, his face more chiseled and boy-like every day, all traces of babyhood now gone.

Saturday morning, get the children dressed, go to Starbucks, the drycleaner, the grocery store.  Drop the groceries off at home.  Slip on the icy snow bank that lines the sidewalk as I try to bring bags of groceries into the house, the kids still in the car, the exhaust pipe billowing white into the crystalline, cold air.  Stop.  Breathe.

Drive to Whit’s birthday party.  Unload drinks, birthday cake, camera.  Several trips from car to Jump On In.  Grace whines because she wants a chocolate bar from the vending machine and I say no.  One of the other boys at the party’s father buys him a chocolate bar.  I still say no.  She threatens tears, crosses her arms across her chest, glares at me, stomps her foot.  I shake my head.  Stop.  Breathe.

25 boys run wild in a paradise of indoor blow-up jumpy castles.  Grace’s finger gets slammed and she cries, this time for real.  We awkwardly wrap and ice pack around it and watch the finger swell.  I wonder if the afternoon will hold another ER visit.  Stop.  Breathe.

Grace asks me to go down the tallest blow up slide with her.  I agree and climb up, clumsy on the unsteady inflated steps.  Grace holds her ice pack in one hand and my hand in the other.  We fly to the bottom, laughing, laughing.

Drive home.  The sky, which was cornflower blue when we arrived at the birthday party, is beginning to fade to pale gray, that winter whiteness that holds everything and nothing in its color.

I carry several loads of bags of presents into the house.  Do I ever arrive anywhere without a car trunk full of things that need unloading, unpacking, putting-into-place?  Whit pounces on the pile of presents and begins to rip into one.  I raise my voice, “Stop!  Wait for me to get in here!” He slinks into the couch to sit and wait, chastised.  Finally, with pad of paper and pen in hand to record the gifts for thank you notes, I let him loose on the bright pile of boxes.

I fill the recycling bin with wrapping paper, wondering how I will fit in all of the boxes and plastic that the toys will shed once actually opened.  When I open the lid of the recycling bin a cascade of snow falls down my front, and my wrists are suddenly freezing.  I’m wearing a pair of Matt’s sneakers, untied, because they were by the door, and I can feel cold wetness around my heels.  The children are shouting about something just inside the door.  I close my eyes for a minute, inhale, my foot poised above the top step.  Sometimes the work of this life is so daunting.  Breathe.

The children watch the Nancy Drew movie.  I put in a load of laundry and sit down at my desk to upload the pictures from the party.  After several minutes I look in on them, sitting close to each other on the couch, and feel a tidal wave of love break over me.  They both sense me staring and look at me, and two faces split into happy smiles.  I return a smile, through tears.

A practice and a poem.

29 thoughts on “Everyday life is a practice and a poem”

  1. I loved this post had goosebumps by the end. These words resonate–I can’t even say how much. Thank you. Now this perfect phrase– practice and a poem–will stay with me too.

  2. I just heaved a huge sigh. Indeed. This is so true. I felt this practice this weekend as my own overflowed with sickness and a renovation that seems to never want to end. And then, last night, when I sat in my own, newly reorganized workspace, I looked back and thought. This is life and it’s more than okay.

    Lovely Lindsey!!

  3. This captures the mundane and the spirit we find within to keep going and to be there for those we love. Sometimes it just feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. I love the phrase! I love your spirit.

  4. I’m assuming those are your words–a practice and a poem? They are beautiful in their simplicity and their perfection. They are the perfect mantra to repeat during those many, many, many, many moments of each and every day with children when you just have to stop and BREATHE. Thank you.

  5. Wow. This may be my favorite post yet. So beautiful! And it so echoes where I am now. In the hardness and cold with a never-ending trunk of things to be unloaded.

    Thank you for reminding me of this. I love it – practice and a poem.


  6. Wow–chills! I adore the line, “that winter whiteness that holds everything and nothing in its color.” So simply, so challenging. And the reminder to breathe through it all is very timely for me.

  7. I loved reading this. I could totally picture you doing all of those things.
    I love your use of such simple and clear language.

  8. I, too, went back to yoga a while ago after a long, long time away. My body, too, remembered the poses. I think it’s a sign I came to this post today…my Wednesday…the day of my yoga class…the class I have not attended for 3 weeks…the class I was debating skipping again today even though I know I shouldn’t.

    Love your description…how you make it all simple and poetic.

  9. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Do you know the line from Samuel Beckett, “Poetry is prayer”? And prayer (however you define it) is a practice, as is poetry, as are our lives. I think everything to which we really pay attention can become a practice, and I, at least, am always better off for attending and practicing.

  10. It’s been a while since I checked in and this post made me weep. I love love love love LOVE your writing, it always makes me check in with myself and my family and what we are going through (which is, of course, very often, the exact same thing).

  11. Again, teary. I love your writing, your perspective and your mantra “a practice and a poem” – such a great description for a busy, bittersweet life…such an important reminder… xo

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