Breathing Exercises for Stressed-Out Mamas (and Anyone Else, Too)

Lots of changes at our house lately. Pippa has finally figured out how to climb out of her crib. I guess I should be grateful—we had almost three years of blissful containment—but gratitude was eclipsed by exhaustion/frustration at 6 A.M. this morning when I heard the telltale click of her door opening, small feet padding along carpet, and felt her raggedy excited breath on my cheek. It’s hard to right a sinking ship, especially when you’re still half-asleep and grumpy, and I’ll spare you the gory details, but the morning got only more challenging. We were all too tired. 

After dropping Pippa off at nursery school, I sat in the car in the driveway, not quite ready to go back into the house and face Maisy’s pinkeye, to nurse her and put her down for nap and get on with my day. That’s when I remembered the breathing exercises that my somatics coach Sylvie has been teaching me and trying to get me to remember to do during stressful situations. They’re really simple and you can do them anytime and anywhere, and they instantly ground you and help you find your breath. Problem is, I always get so caught up in the heat of the moment that I forget to take a minute to do them. So this is as much a reminder for me as it is a cheat sheet for stressed-out, anxious mamas everywhere. 

Turn your head slowly
Start by turning your head look over your left shoulder. Very gradually and slowly, keep turning your head until your eyes are forward and continue on until your chin is pointing to your right shoulder. Then go back the way you came. The key is to do this as calmly as possible. If you’re like me, you’ll start swiveling slowly but then may accidentally speed up because you’re curious to see what’s over your right shoulder. Don’t. Slow down. Pretend like you’re doing this in your sleep, and that your head is floating lightly on your neck. Can you feel your breath deepen and quiet and slow down?

Seriously. Let your mouth hang open and your chin go slack. Tuck your chin slightly in toward your neck—this will trigger the familiar yawning sensation. Then just go with it. Open your mouth wide, close your eyes, and let the yawn come. If you’re really feeling it, stretch your arms above your head. Make whatever weird face you make when you yawn, whether it’s scrunching up your eyes or hunching your shoulders. It’s best to try this alone at first until you get the hang of yawning on command because it can be kind of embarrassing to let your mouth flap open in front of someone else (I still can’t yawn when Sylvie tells me to). We’ve been conditioned to think that yawning is the height of rudeness and should be hidden or suppressed, but it’s actually one of our body’s best ways of releasing stressful energy. Repeat as often as necessary.

Press your hands together
Hold your arms out in front of your body as though you are cradling a baby or carrying a bag of groceries. Press your palms together so that the fingers of your right hand pointing up and the fingers on your left hand are pointing down. Keep your back as straight as possible and push your palms together with as much force as you can muster. Don’t hold your breath, but feel it deepen and slow. Keep pressing until you’ve taken five or six long, deep breaths in a row. 

Press your feet together
You can do this sitting or standing, but make sure your back is straight and your feet are flat on the ground. Press your feet hard into the ground; you’ll feel the muscles in your calves engage, but don’t hold your breath. Be aware of the balls of your feet making contact with the surface below you; then focus on your heels. Feel every part of your foot pressing into the ground. As you do, your breath will naturally slow down and become deeper. 

Inhale, hold. Exhale, hold. 
This one’s as simple as it sounds. Take a long, deep breath in and hold it at the top. Then exhale the same way and hold it briefly at the bottom. Repeat the series three times, or as many times as you need. I use this one when I wake up at 5 AM and my mind is racing and it seems impossible that I will ever go back to sleep. Some time later I wake up and realize that I did. 

I sat in the car and pressed my hands together and remembered what Steve had said only 20 minutes earlier, when I was strapping Pippa into her car seat and still fuming from the scratch of her small fingers on my cheek. “Nothing’s so bad,” he said. “Nothing’s really so bad.” I don’t know why, but it made me feel better. They were simple, his words, just like these exercises. Try them and tell me what you think. 


Recipe of the Week: Finally-Summer Caprese Pasta

Like everywhere else in the country, we’ve had the weirdest weather this spring. A few days ago we woke to grey skies, which is quite frankly pretty bizarre but nonetheless sort of welcome in New Mexico in May, especially this May, when we’ve had approximately zero significant precipitation since almost the start of the year. Later that morning, it hailed, and then rained sideways, and blew a couple of Steve’s big, potted trees over in the driveway, and I lit a fire in the woodstove and kept it going all day, feeling sorry for myself. The moisture I didn’t mind. I just wanted warm. I wanted summer. 

It arrived the next day: no wind, cornflower sky, only a few wispy clouds. Santa Fe in all its late-spring glory. That evening after we put the kids to bed, I went mountain biking, the way I used to do almost every night before I had two girls to bathe and feed, when I could ride the trails until dark. Now, those sweet evening rides are a rarity, and all the more precious because of how seldom I can escape on my bike. In the old days, I’d come home and forage through the fridge for dinner rations or let Steve fix something for us as darkness settled on the house, but now that I’m a mom and a fledgling cook, I’m trying to have more of a conscience when it comes to actually preparing the food I put in my mouth. 

Mostly as I rode, I was marveling at the lovely apricot light on the mountains and worrying about how dry the trails are and feeling gratitude in every cell in my body for being out in that flawless, magical evening, but I guess somewhere in my brain, without realizing it, I was also thinking about making dinner. 

Because as soon as I skirted the fence line at our house and threaded through the narrow gap between the cholla cacti and rounded the bend by the raised garden beds getting all perky with sprouting greens, I knew what I was going to make, and what I wanted to eat, with what we had in the house: early summer pasta.

I didn’t have a recipe—I just made it up as I went, while Steve hunched over the laptop in his office, pretending to do bills for his clients but really watching ski videos on Youtube instead. I was blown away by how quick and easy it is to make and, conversely, how hard it is to screw up and how pretty it looked on plate. Essential for rookies like me!

Here's the deal:

8 ounces ziti pasta
half a container of cherry tomatoes, sliced or quartered depending on size (I happened to have a colorful mix of organic heirlooms from Trader Joe’s on hand)
1 container of fresh whole-milk mozzarella buttons (not the big chunks), halved
balsamic vinegar, olive oil, oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh arugula

While the water was boiling for the pasta, I prepped the tomatoes and mozzarella and put them into a big bowl. Then I cooked the pasta for 10 minutes with a dash of salt and drained it, tossing it in with the mozzarella and tomatoes. Steve arrived in time to work his magic with the spices, oil, and balsamic vinegar—he didn't measure but just poured them in with some innate and genius sense of proportion. We haven’t planted our herbs yet, so he used dried basil and a bit of oregano from the spice cupboard, then seasoned generously with salt and pepper. It was still missing something fresh and green, so Steve went out back with the scissors and harvested our first mini-crop of arugula, which we threw into the mix and tossed. Voila!

We ate outside as it was getting dark, and the pasta tasted clean and fresh, just like a perfect summer evening on your fork. I'm definitely going to make this ahead of time and bring it along on our San Juan River trip next month. 


Landscape of Happiness

I just got back from Vermont and central New York, where it is ridiculously green and lush and bucolic from a season of non-stop rain. It’s been so long since I’ve been back there in anything but the dead of winter that I’d forgotten how much I miss fields and huge trees and meadows everywhere you look. Lilacs in full bloom and lawns speckled with dandelions. Trees taller than single-story buildings, grass that carpets every square inch of non-paved ground. What a concept! I couldn’t get enough of the silos—old-fashioned dirty-grey silos that tilt recklessly out of cow paddocks and shiny new sapphire blue metal silos that loom up from family dairy farms, large operations that nonetheless seem to belong to the land just as the sugar maples and humpy green hills they call mountains. 

Plus there is water everywhere. I’m a sucker for water of any kind—ponds, rivers, creeks, lakes, oceans—and there is so much water that it is almost embarrassing. It’s positively show-offy with water. In Middlebury, where I’d gone to college 18 years ago, the raging torrent that roars through town is called Otter “Creek.” Here in New Mexico a body of water that size would get full-blown river status, no question. But there, where New England modesty rules the day, it’s just a creek. While I was there, I went for a trail run on Chipman Hill, the little bump out downtown’s back door where Middlebury locals used to ski during the 40s when it was too expensive to drive up to the Snow Bowl, and ran through little rivulets springing up out of nowhere. Ah, to have wet feet! Now I know why the 20-something kid buying beer at 10:30 at night in the convenience store was shellacked, sneakers to knees, in mud.  
crossing Otter Creek

All of this is making think more about what makes a good, liveable town, a question that keeps cropping up as I contemplate how to raise two environmentally conscious, socially responsible girls in our increasingly distracted world. Certainly a sympathetic hometown is a good place to start, and Middlebury flaunts its niceness. From most places in town, you can walk to a grocery store and a movie theater and a creaky-floored Ben Franklin hardware shop and a natural food co-op, coffeehouses, restaurants, and the old-fashioned Vermont Book Store that somehow miraculously still exists. What does it say about America in 2011 that a town like this—with basic necessities and niceties within walking distance of many residents—seems anachronistic? It says something pretty sad.

green roofs are a perk, too
I used to write stories about liveable adventure towns for Outside magazine, and I’d comb the map looking for the elusive Best Place and zeroing in on its best attributes. Silos and the smell of manure carried in on the breeze are optional. Basic services reachable by bike or foot are not. A river—or even a creek—flowing through downtown is nice. A liberal arts college with a serious commitment to sustainability is a plus. Trails and mountains out back? A must. Good schools—definitely. Friendly neighbors who stop to talk outside the corner bakery, yup. Of course there’s more: Affordable housing, childcare, cultural diversity, family and friends and a deep-rooted sense of community. Jobs! 

Some of these are subjective, others more measurable, but the most essential and elusive ingredient of all might be memory: a sense of belonging, of continuity—stretching backwards or looking forward. Once upon a time, I was 17 years old in this town, with shoulder-length hair and cut-off chinos. Now I have two daughters of my own, and I want them to know what it feels like to ride their bikes to the market and walk to school and feel safe on their streets. What will be their landscape of memory and happiness? What kind of places will they be homesick for?

nostalgia = freshman dorm, 21 years later


Newborn Bliss

So I am emerging, even if brief, from my newborn cocoon to post. He, our fourth, was worth the wait! The extra twelve days of waiting post guess date--that is really what they are, even if you are sure of your conception date like I was and am. He was worth the extra 2 hours and 45 minutes of pushing, and the amazing release I felt once he emerged gracefully in water and much to everyone's relief and wonder. He was worth losing all my hair this pregnancy and still waiting it's slow regrowth, which since giving birth 2.5 weeks ago has sped up substantially. I managed to avoid induction! An induced labor is way harder than waiting a baby out! I know I have been there with my first. No matter the angst in waiting it is well worth avoiding the devil's spit, also known as Pitocin, at least in my humble opinion.

S. is a calm baby, a little love, who eats and sleeps and eats and sleeps and poops and poops and poops. His big brothers LOVE him, and say it to him daily..."I love the new baby," is a phrase that melts my heart at least three times a day! I am stockpiling these utterances because in nine months when he is mobile and attacking lego shrines I know it will be replaced with shrieks of "Mooooooommmmm, HELP!"

It's taken a while to name cuatro. I thought we were settled and then out he came and Peter said I think he is not a James. What? Not a James? That is the way I thought of him almost every day since six months when intuitively I felt yep, another boy! So to not have it be James threw me. Threw me to the point of we need to wait to announce his name. This throws everyone else by the way...to the point of no more "baby yet?" texts, but instead they are replaced with "name yet?" texts. Finally, we have decided...but I have yet to officially post it. Call me gun shy, or just soaking up my little time with him, but I know I need to go public and soon.

And then what every woman needs postpartum is a visit from a good girlfriend! And I got that in spades when Katie came with her daughter, M. Truly. It makes you feel capable again. I felt energetic and daring enough to walk around lakes, hit the mall, walk the neighborhood, lug home bags of wipes (did I mention we are going through a lot of poop again?!), and drink glasses of wine and chat and laugh. 

I hear my little calling through the monitor. This is all I have time for now, but be assured more to follow! And with that I hope next time to post a picture or two!

PS Just read your post "Be the Trout," and you make me feel like I could climb a mountain!


Be the Trout

OK, it’s official: My friend and co-creator of this blog, Elizabeth, is without a doubt the most badass mother I know. I just got back from three days at the Sullivan house in St. Paul. The idea was that I would go to Minnesota to help Elizabeth, who gave birth to her fourth son two weeks ago. But Elizabeth is so absurdly accomplished and unflappable that she can corral three active, young boys with a droopy newborn slung over one arm and make it look easy. I’ve been feeling kind of rickety lately, so I figured chances were good that she’d be the one taking care of me. 

dueling babies @ the pizza shoppe
I’d never been to St. Paul before and was blown away by how nice it is. Their neighborhood, Tangletown, is filled with old homes with big grassy backyards, tall trees, and actual sidewalks. You can walk to Whole Foods in five minutes, lug a month’s worth of baby wipes back in a red kiddy wagon, and debate stopping at the Grandview Theater to catch a late movie on the way home. Or you can walk five minutes in the other direction to the Italian Pie Shoppe on Grande to pick up pizza, like we did on my first night in town. 

Just as we got back to Elizabeth’s house, a man across the street began shouting at us. My first instinct was that he was a hostile lunatic and that we should yell back or run into the house and hide. Then I realized that he lived there and was just being friendly. He stood on his front steps and we stood on hers and yacked back and forth about the new baby, his dinner plans with his wife, the ETA of his babysitter. Ah, Midwesterners. I’d only been in town half an hour and I already knew the neighbors. All of this filled me with a deep sense of nostalgia—this was just like the town in New Jersey where I grew up, only even more Normal Rockwell-wholesome. 

It’s fitting that Elizabeth should live in St. Paul. Everyone there seems so nice and normal and not at all caught up in their own dramas. Even the drama of having four kids six and under is not a drama in the Twin Cities, where baby carriages are standard accessories and a family of four is considered small. I was impressed to see that Elizabeth was taking her new arrival in stride, and life continued more or less as normal in the Sullivan household. There were chickens to chase in the Wild Rumpus Bookstore after a Mother’s Day outing to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis and bikes and wagons to ride in the backyard, and tiny baby S. slept through most of it, sacked out on a chair in his brothers’ room or tucked into his sling while we ran errands at the Mall of America (natch). As chill as the mother who birthed him. 

bliss is a brand-new (sleeping) baby
I was beginning to think nothing could phase Elizabeth—until the last night. Details will be spared, but suffice it to say the scene was straight out of the movie Outbreak, with rubber gloves and buckets of bleach being wielded and small children howling in the next room. I did as all good houseguests would do and hid in the kitchen, doing the dishes and marveling as Elizabeth tamed the wild rumpus by barely raising her voice. 

Still, I learned a lesson. Or two. Even seemingly perfect, imperturbable mothers can get crushed by a code red HazMat situation in the bathtub. And it’s easy to remain calm and collected when it’s not your kids melting down in the next room. When Elizabeth finally emerged, looking like she could really use a glass of wine, I remembered some good advice I’d read recently in the mega-wise Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. Whatever happens, do your best not to get sucked into your kids’ drama. Remain as detached and mature as possible. Even if they’re freaking out, don’t freak out. Stay calm and carry on. In other words: Be the trout. Don’t get hooked. 

Easier said than done. Be the trout, I coached myself the next day, back in Santa Fe with a wild child of my own flinging rubber duckies in my face and sneaking out of her room to hide outside when I wasn’t looking (hello, heart attack). But I wasn’t the trout—not that day. I was blown out from traveling and took the bait, which of course only made things worse.

No one’s perfect. We’re all human. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be the trout. One can always hope. 


Quote of the Day

"Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all." — Pema Chodron


Daydreaming with Dad

Today would have been my father’s 74th birthday. When I’d call him each May 5, my first words were always “Happy Cinco de Mayo!” which typically sidetracked us into an animated discussion about the many margaritas we’d consumed in our lives, especially the ones we’d consumed together, before I got down to the real business of the day. (On my birthday, he’d return the favor with “Happy Daughter’s Day!” or “Happy Halloween!” or some similarly silly and peripheral greeting.)
Dad, 2007

Last year when I called, it was late afternoon on his Virginia farm and Dad was putzing around the kitchen, thinking about getting ready to be taken out for dinner to the local cafĂ© in Flint Hill, 24 Crows, or maybe even sneaking in a passing glance at the early news (surely he was the last person in the world to watch network news?). My stepmother was out in the barn feeding her horses and had not yet been kicked in the arm by Spike (or was it Mouse?). That would happen shortly after my dad and I hung up, derailing birthday dinner plans and resulting in a fractured forearm and a long night in the E.R. Looking back, that was the beginning of it all, the long hot dry summer of trouble, when the news from Huntly Stage was grim and getting grimmer: My stepmom’s arm wasn’t healing, it hadn’t rained in weeks, the fields had dried up, the vegetable garden was a husk of its former self, it was hot as blazes, but—glimmer of hope!—at least the air conditioning still worked. 

You’d have to be deaf not to hear the distress signals, but I was having the opposite kind of summer. I was pregnant and then Maisy was born and I was cocooned in baby bliss (or was it sleep deprivation?) and far too preoccupied by this tiny, new precious life to fret too much about drought and disgruntlement on the farm. I hate thinking about it now—what I might have done or could have done had I known what I know now. 

Because of course there was more to Dad’s angst than he let on. He’d been filling sluggish for several months, leftover lethargy from what he thought was a kidney stone. After he died, I found a small spiral pocket notebook on the shelf of his closet, on top of a lopsided stack of sweatshirts. In it, he’d recorded his weight in thick black magic marker, every day for three or four weeks in August and late September. Just a date and a number, no comment. The trend was down. Not precipitously, but by the date of his last entry, just before his diagnosis on September 16, he’d dropped four or five pounds. Dad was a data guy, an inveterate observer and amateur scientist. He dutifully logged every inch of rainfall the farm saw in the 30 years he lived there and practically every penny he spent every day, but these entries, however unadorned, seemed to radiate a new kind of emotion: fear. This time he was more than just the observer; he was the observed. 

Then he found out just how sick he was, and the doctors gave him six to nine months without treatment, but his disease was a runaway train and he didn’t even make three. Now it is his birthday and staggering to the fragile, grief-whipped mind to contemplate that a year ago none of this had really begun, or was just beginning, only we didn’t know it. 

Today Steve and I planted a peach tree in his memory. He and my step-mom used to have a one on the west side of their house that was like a caricature of a southern peach tree. It literally drooped with fruit; the branches scraped the ground. In the sweltering sticky heat of high summer, when the fields grew knee-high overnight and needed to be mowed by my dad every other day it seemed, you could not pick the peaches fast enough. They practically grew as you watched. Eventually the tree wore itself out with all its fecundity and had to be taken down, but I’ve always fantasized about fresh peaches from my own tree. 

Dad's peach
After the tree was planted, I got Dad’s favorite Rappahannock County baseball hat and a copy of his long road-trip journal, "American Heartline," and sat beside tree. I put the hat on, black but faded from long days in the sun on his tractor, with a single raggedy pinky-sized hole on top, perhaps from an errant spark (once Dad almost set his own fields on fire, accidentally, but that’s another story), and flipped the laminated book open to a random page. The first words caught my eye were “Bye, Dad.” I took that as a sign, so I started reading aloud to the peach tree. In that day's entry, Dad was in St. Aubert, Missouri, and had met some men, as usual, and was knee-deep in friendly, ambling conversation. There was a joke, of course—that was Dad’s way of making people feel comfortable—and talk about farming and rain, too much of it that year, the summer of ‘95. 

Then I lay back on the flagstone path and tilted Dad’s black cap over my eyes. When he was alive, Dad used to lie on his shrimp-colored living room carpet after lunch and daydream for 20 minutes or so. He was an exceptionally industrious, hardworking person, almost to a fault, but he allowed himself this one respite each day. It was, he told me once, a chance for his brain’s alpha waves to recalibrate. He'd looked this up in the dictionary, he wrote me in an email, and found that alpha rhythms are“a pattern of slow brain waves in normal persons at rest with closed eyes, thought by some to be associated with an alert but daydreaming mind." He concluded with this cheerful afterthought: "Glad to know I didn't just make it up!" Dad didn’t doze off but lay there in a hazy state until he felt ready to get up, at which point he usually felt refreshed, if not tingly with new ideas and clarity. Leave it to Dad to find a practical use for daydreaming. 

Lying there, with Dad’s large cap perfectly screening my face from the midday sun, I crossed my legs at the ankles and folded my hands on my stomach, just like he used to do. I heard the cottonwood tree’s thumbprint leaves rustle in the breeze and the miniature, falling-apart wind chime I’d hung years ago in a branch of a nearby juniper begin to tinkle. I don’t remember ever hearing the pathetic specimen make a noise before. I smelled the sweet lilacs and felt ants scurrying up my bare shins. 

I didn’t think of Dad as much as feel him. He was all around me in the air, and I could smell his farm—not just the farm, but Dad on the farm. The farm and Dad were one, indivisible. I had a sense of him—his hands, his voice, the way the barn he built sat on the hillside. These came to me not in specific images but through the sounds of the day, as a weight that passed overhead and lingered just long enough for me to know he was there. 

As you probably know by now, I’ve become obsessed with slowing down lately. So I’m going to remember this feeling today, and take every chance I get to lie down beside the peach tree with Dad and be still. 

Happy birthday, Dad. 


Mother Trouble

Had to share this link today from Motherlode about the new 2011 State of the World's Mothers report, published by Save the Children. It's a sobering reminder that our woes as Western mothers—too little time for this or that, a teetery balance between self and kids, oh the angst!—pale in comparison to those of mothers in sub-Saharan Africa and Afghanistan, where it's dangerous to bear and rear children. 

The study analyzed economic, health, and education conditions for women and children in 164 countries. Norway, Australia, Iceland, Sweden, and Denmark grab the top five spots, while the U.S. ranks 31st out of 43 developed countries. (One of many reasons for our lackluster rating: We have the least generous maternity leave policy of any wealthy nation.) Afghanistan ranks last.

Read more here at Motherlode, and thanks to Lisa Belkin for the reality check on this run-up to Mother's Day.  


Shelter from the Storm

I’m just back from a long weekend in Sonoma, celebrating my mother’s birthday with my sisters and their kids. As always, Sonoma was gorgeous and I found myself missing a landscape that’s never been mine, but still manages to tug at my heart: the high, bucolic hills a patchwork of grassy meadows and neat grids of grapes. How vines so twisty and gnarled can give the illusion of such precision and order is a mystery to me.

After the birthday celebrations were over, Steve and I snuck out for our usual run up the one-lane road to the top of the Mayacamas Mountains. The sun was setting and as we gained altitude, the air became damper and richer, more alive with the summery smell of Douglas firs and sweet bay leaves and far to the southwest we could see the high rises of San Francisco and Oakland shrunken with distance and glittering in the late-day light. It felt both Mediterranean and maritime, with a bit of Northwest big-tree grandeur chucked in for good measure, and it made me wistful for a life I don’t lead, or used to lead, or might someday want to lead, but I didn’t say any of that. If I had, all fears and exhaustion and doubt might have spilled out, and I wanted to be free of them, at least for a little while.

It was a choice I made. Sometimes it’s easy to forget we have choices. We may not be able to choose the events that define our lives, but we can choose how we respond to them. In the past few weeks, no matter how fast I run, grief and motherhood have finally caught up to me, weighing me down with a heaviness that feels both inevitable and inexplicable. It’s hard to put words to the darkness, only that when it settles on me, most everything I love feels difficult, insurmountable, wearisome. It moves in as a storm, clouds blowing in from the west, wispy and innocuous at first, wind building until it’s directly overhead, flattening me for a few hours or a few days with its wall-to- wall charcoal skies and sideways rain.

This is a meteorological event—I don’t have a say in the matter. The only thing I can do is root down, fling my ice axe into the ground and hang on so the cyclone doesn’t pick me up by my pinky toes and suck me in. I suppose this is normal, this reeling of birth and death. Maisy is nearly 10 months old; she has been out in the world longer than she was in the womb. My dad has been gone for five months, twice as long as he was sick. What to do? How to make sense of it all?

When I was little and feeling out of sorts, my mother would say, “Just get busy and do something”—a gentle, upbeat prodding, the verbal equivalent of whisking me on the bottom with a tea towel. She made it sound so simple, and it was. I’d go shoot hoops in the backyard or ride my bike around the neighborhood or pester my sister to play Trivial Pursuit or stretch out on my bed and read Harriet the Spy. Invariably, it worked. Activity was the antidote to that nameless, shiftless loneliness we know as kids, when we first become aware that time is passing and life is moving, carrying us with it, and that nothing lasts or is permanent.

But it’s tiring to be busy doing something for so long. So now I am trying to choose stillness, to find silence and peace in even the most fragmented moments, to slow down and do less, to live in the troughs between the storms. I don’t really know what this means, only that I need to find a balance between endless, instinctual striving and a visceral need for stillness. I could try to figure out, right here in this post, how to do this, but that would defeat the purpose. So I think I’ll just settle in and shut up and see where the troughs carry me. It’s a mystery.