All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to
It’s true… I was made for you
– Brandi Carlile, The Story
There’s something about the act of settling in to a place that requires validation of its forthcoming presence. Accepting Chicago as my home for the near, and further, future has led me to make roots in a way that I have not in the past. In the past 10 years I have moved 12 times, and last month my partner and I purchased a home. Our first home. More stress and patience and love and kindness than I could have ever imagined were packed into a few very short weeks, but this morning I find myself on the patio, in front of beautiful fall colors and with the sun shining through the chilly air, breathing deep breaths. To feel rooted somewhere intentionally, purposefully, and to know that my physical and creative and collaborative spirit can grow without an impending restlessness, is something I have never experienced before. Feeling thankful, and warmed, and present, and curious about how rooting will continue to ground me in the coming months.
Sitting down to sip our hot drinks, I would ask you about the most exciting thing to happen in your life the past month. Was it a welcomed surprise or was it planned and triumphant? Are you still riding that high, or experiencing the denouement? Was it a small blip on the radar that meant a lot, or was it enough to fill all the space you could provide? In my world, the birth of my third niece was triumphant, I’m still riding the high (and learning how to be an aunt), and it filled all the space I could provide. My sister-in-law was so strong, and confident, and shining through it all, and my other two nieces are forces to be reckoned with, and will teach their sister the same. All advice about how to thrive as a long-distance aunt is welcomed!
As I slow my enjoyment of chai, and think about what brought us together, I would reflect on how much I have thought about what I wanted to focus on during our time together. And I would realize that I likely did not allow myself to think about it at all beforehand. With my mind occupied with logistics and moment-to-moment tasks the past month, I have had little time to think. Just think. I have found that even when I have a second to just think, I don’t. Instead, I look at my phone. Instead, I check my email. Instead, I make a list of things I should be doing. It is a practice, and intention, to create time to think, to reflect, to process, and I am out of practice. I am working on creating more time, and space, for an open mind and spontaneous thought.
With my hands warmed and tears in my eyes, I would mentally embrace, and somehow find the words, to express the passion I feel toward those I consider my chosen family. Some of my closest friends have had huge life events coming their way. Job choices, relationship decisions, pregnancies, births… It is an honor to be in their lives, to support them, to love them, and to bear witness to the complexities that this world and its rotations brings all of us. I have been incredibly thankful to have them do the same for me, and it is an honor to reciprocate.
Already thinking about a second mug, I would ask about your favorite pastimes. (And what a ridiculous word, since ideally these are things that you do regularly!). Some of mine, which I miss enjoying because lately it feels like an indulgence, are writing, knitting, traveling, spending long weekends with family, snuggling the dog, visiting friends for no reason other than I miss them… the list goes on and makes me feel good just to think about! One of mine, that I have named and recognized and made space for in my life, is live music. In the past week I really packed it in, and attending performances of Lucius, Sharon Van Etten, and Brandi Carlile. Three different venues, three very different artists, and all amazing. Brandi Carlile and her band write lyrics that affect me deeply, and have historical presence in my soul, so to see her live for the first time, and in a small venue with only acoustic performances, was a vibrating experience for me. If you are unfamiliar with her music, I recommend (starting with) this NPR Tiny Desk concert below.
Adding a bit more nutmeg to my remaining drink, I would share something that has been weighing on me. In an effort to pay off student loans, save for home renovations, and experience midwifery in all of its facets, I have been working between 60 and 80 hours per week. Every week. For months. That has left little time to write, to relax, to be with family, to be with friends… all things I rank very high on my priorities. And, thusly, midwifery had begun to feel like work. Depending on the day, sometimes I feel passionate and intentional about my daily grind, but lately, more often than not, it has felt like work. And that is not at all what I intend in this profession. I am looking forward to much less work, and much less weight, and much more space to love what I do and attend it fully in body and mind, rather than fulfill its required hours. Here’s to balancing my schedule with more mindfulness and joy.
Finishing up the final sips, I would ask you questions that have ruminated in my mind lately. What are you thinking about the majority of the time? What do you wish you were thinking about more? What do you wish you were thinking about less? What are you looking forward to? What are you in the practice of doing that you enjoy? In what activity are you out of practice, that you seek to make more time and space to regain your muscle memory?
For the majority of my time, I am thinking about the new home , and the joy of making this official space our own. Filling it to the corners with love and peace, minimizing stuff and maximizing respite, starting fresh and similarly reflecting on what brought us here. These thoughts, and their subsequent actions, are sometimes stressful and sometimes joyful… but all the time exciting. Loving this new adventure.
I want to think more about writing and my intentions in my midwifery life. Writing is so important to my daily process, and I have not had the time that I used to, or the time that I found, to write what is most important to me. I am working on finding that again.
I want to think less about midwifery as work. I won’t even write more about it, because I am thinking less about it that way already!
I am in the practice of taking baths at the end of long days, listening to music, and that has been amazing. Muscle memory already in place.
I am absolutely out of practice of creating time to think and write, and write and think. For those who do not know me personally (though I do hope we eventually know each other personally), this “blog” is not a chronicle of my midwifery time: it is my own self-examination, it is a critique on the institutions in which I subscribe and negate, it is an emotional explosion when my cups runneth over with joy or despair, it is a journal like I have never known. Writing allows me to do all of that: to release, to cry, to accept, to celebrate. Thinking, writing. Bleeding. A la Ernest. So… thank you to those who realize that and allow it for me.
See you next month,