Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Did It Feel Like

What did it feel like

As you walked away

From me

Your daughter?

What does that feel like,

Walking away from your child?

How does the air move around your body?

What shoes does one wear to do this?

Did you tread gingerly,

The dusty ground making crunching sounds?

Did the perhaps ground slip out from under you,

Quaking under your feet with the knowledge
of what you were about to do?

Or did you run,

Fast and hard and awayso as not to feel

My heart

Two years from my birth,

Break apart.

Did you tilt your head as you walked?

Did you look back and see me?

Did you then drive to your mother’s for comfort,

Or to forget,

Did you walk hastily through to her backyard,

Falling to your knees,

Praying to the bluebirds you found there?

Did their wings tell of my loss?

Each flap my execution.

In those moments after your exit,

Did my scent remain with you?

At the sight of the stars,
did it smash into you,

Smearing you into the oily Earth,

The realization that,
God help you,

I was probably looking at the same stars,


Lips quivering,

Without you?

And later,

when you sniffed the piano key white powder


into your nose,

Did you think your heart,

And therefore mine,

Could forget

Through numbness?

Did you think, at all?

And when it stormed,

late into the night,

Did you ever awaken with a start,

panicking that I too,

May be somewhere in my


Wracked with thunderous grief,

With the total annihilation of your leaving?

And when my father took me, at three years old,

For himself in his bed,

Could you feel it?

When you shopped at the market every Saturday,

Bumping into that sweet ole Creole lady

As you Mumbled, ‘Excuse me, Maa’m…”

and the sun colored oranges caught your darting eye.

Did you wonder, then,

Does Sarah,



Like oranges?

Or were oranges oranges

and storms storms and mother’s hearts just numb.

And what of your father, your mother,

What did they teach you that you believed I was better off with anyone but the woman who birthed me,


My Mother?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

7 Foods That Fight Anxiety

7 Foods That Fight Anxiety

Bills arriving in heaps? Gas prices sky-rocketing? Summer love turned sour? Regardless of the cause, there's a counter-intuitiveness to the goodies we turn to for comfort. Take the classic-curling up with a pint of ice cream. It's a total backfire. Why? Sweets are insidious: After the initial rush, the body's insulin response kicks in, causing a sudden blood sugar drop that triggers the release of stress hormones. Soon you're feeling more jangled than you were before you inhaled that whole container of Chunky Monkey. And alcohol, of course, is a wolfish stimulant in calm sheep's clothing.
But true comfort foods do exist.
1. Berries, any berriesEat them one by one instead of M&Ms when the pressure's on. For those tough times when tension tightens your jaw, try rolling a frozen berry around in your mouth. And then another, and another. Since the carbs in berries turn to sugar very slowly, you won't have a blood sugar crash. The bonus: They're a good source of vitamin C, which helps fight a jump in the stress hormone cortisol.
2. GuacamoleIf you're craving something creamy, look no further. Avocados are loaded with B vitamins, which stress quickly depletes and which your body needs to maintain nerves and brain cells. Plus their creaminess comes from healthy fat. Scoop up the stuff with whole-grain baked chips-crunching keeps you from gritting your teeth.
3. Mixed nutsJust an ounce will help replace those stress-depleted Bs (walnuts), give you a whopping amount of zinc (Brazil nuts)-it's also drained by high anxiety-and boost your E (almonds), which helps fight cellular damage linked to chronic stress. Buy nuts in the shell and think of it as multi-tasking: With every squeeze of the nutcracker, you're releasing a little bit of tension.
4. OrangesPeople who take a 1,000 mg of C before giving a speech have lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure than those who don't. So lean back, take a deep breath, and concentrate on peeling a large orange. The 5-minute mindfulness break will ease your mind and you'll get a bunch of C as well.
5. AsparagusEach tender stalk is a source of folic acid, a natural mood-lightener. Dip the spears in fat-free yogurt or sour cream for a hit of calcium with each bite.
6. Chai teaA warm drink is a super soother, and curling up with a cup of aromatic decaf chai tea (Tazo makes ready-to-brew bags) can make the whole evil day go away.
7. Dark chocolateOkay, there's nothing in it that relieves stress, but when only chocolate will do, reach for the dark, sultry kind that's at least 70% cocoa. You figure if the antioxidant flavonoids in it are potent enough to fight cancer and heart disease, they've got to be able to temper tension's effects.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dreaming Mother

In my dream last night, my son, who is 7, was playing the in the surf. On a beach with white sand. I kept walking out to him, brushing his blonde hair back from his eyes, the warm breeze blowing all around us, asking,"Are you doing okay? Do you need Mama for anything?" He said he was ok, just playing, and I kept walking back about 10 feet to the edge of the water. Suddenly, the lights went out as it were, the sun literally went out. It was dark, pitch black, parents were screaming.
I stood up, and a profound sense of knowingness washed over me. I closed my eyes, yes, in the dark, and listened for him. Once he said,"I'm over here". I heard him, but I already knew where I was going. I listened, not for auditory sounds necessarily, but for the pull in my belly, in my heart, the magnetism of him. There was a feeling of being wrapped in something and gently pulled by it. Yet, I felt it from the inside, and I knew I could only access it by closing my eyes, that the seeing I needed was INSIDE of me. The feeling was so deep, so real, and it drowned out all other noise. I put my hands out like a sleepwalker, and kept my eyes closed. I was guided right to him. I never once lost it, or felt one bit of fear. I did not open my eyes until we got back to shore, and the sun came back on.In this quieting of all the screams around me, a silence in my own head, in my self was louder, and it pulled me inward.. My mother radar just clicked. I felt no fear, nor did he. He knew I would find him. Closing my eyes in the dark to find him, yes. The seeing that I needed was inside of me, that vibration, that knowingness, the pull of mothertochild.
It's weird to explain, but this dream reminded me of the mythical tale of the handless maiden, the girl who regains her hands after having her baby, the healing that children bring. Here is a synopsis:
My first experience with the "Armless Maiden" was reading a powerful Xhosa version of the tale, "A Father Cuts Off His Daughter's Arms," performed by Mrs. Nongenile Masithatu Zenani, a Xhosa storyteller from South Africa, and translated by Harold Schueb. In this version a widowed father chooses not to remarry and relies on his young daughter to perform his wife's household duties of cooking and cleaning. When the girl reaches puberty, he attempts to coerce his daughter into filling the sexual role of his deceased wife as well. The girl steadfastly refuses his advances, bursting into noisy weeping that threatens to alert the neighbors. The next day the father takes her into the woods. Once again he demands that she have sex with him. When she again refuses, he cuts off her arms with a knife and leaves her in the woods to die. Bleeding and in tremendous pain, the girl suffers in solitude until hunger forces her to her feet. Dazed, she begins to wander through an "endless forest, ascending and descending." Symbolism, anyone?
The armless maiden is required to relate the story of her father's crime three times before she is rescued and brought into the homestead. Once bathed, the family realizes that even without her arms the girl is beautiful, and she is soon married to their son. At first this seems a resolution, particularly when she gives birth to a child, but gradually problems arise. Without her arms, the new mother can not care for her infant, what will she do?
The young woman returns to the woods and begins a second journey, ascending and descending the endless forest until, weary and thirsty, she comes upon a lake. Having lived in the wood for many days with her child, the woman stops by a stream to rest and refresh herself. As she bends over the water's edge, the child slips from her back and falls into the water. The handless one, knowing it is futile to reach into the waters to save the baby, shoves her stumps into the cold depths. When she does so, her hands instantly grow back.

My therapist related this to me years ago. That is so powerful. That is what we mean by healing for or through one's child. It can apply to partners too.
The line between what we do for ourselves to heal and what they do to help us is barely tangible yet indelible all the same. "And if there is a way to find you I will find you....threads that are golden don't break easily.." Horses, Tori Amos.

My boundaries are not just about keeping people out or letting them in, or having healthy this or that with others, it's also about knowing myself, knowing that I am good because I exist, and seeing through the internalized shame shell I inherited and was given by my parents through their abandonment of me, physical, sexual, spiritual. I feel into my cells that I AM a good mother in ways I never could allow myself to believe before. The shame I have carried over my own mother's maternal inadequacies, my father's outright betrayals and abuse, this dream pierced through that and I awoke with a knowingness, a belief not just in, but ABOUT myself that I have not fully expreienced before. Instead of fearing I will repeat my parents trauma, neurotically so-"Will I traumatize them, am I doing this wrong, did I do that too much, did I say that too much, If I do this will they feel abandoned..." I have been carrying the shame of my parents and it has masqueraded as my own voice. It is not. I am vicariously reraising myself through my boys. And I am what I and My husband tell them they are, strong, radiant, capable of anything, kind, self aware. I am believing on a deep level the very love I give to them, I believe it about ME. A dream come true indeed.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Strawberry Epiphany

when they sleep, it's like hearing a piano play melodic velvet notes.
it's as if soft moss is tracing it's way over your skin.
or like a drink of the coldest water at your thirstiest.
seeing them eat strawberries and that sight becomes art,
becomes an epiphany,
a swan song.
see them gaze at the redness of it,
this makes strawberries suddenly holy.
holy is the sacred,
many people claim to know the way,
many of them men.
but men, stop your ego from talking,
sit by my side for a moment in time
watch a child of golden hair,
breathe up,breathe down,
eat a strawberry in ecstasy,
look at you
with that very look,
tug upon that never gone umbilical cord threading you
together forever.
sit and see,
see the way of
for they are what holy is.