What I Learned On the Last Day of the Year

Almost a month into the new year and finally 2015 is a soft blur, a whirl of high emotion spinning over a constant, blinking beat of down lowness. I grappled with sadness and grasped at spurts of wonder, wanting to hold on to them, pocket them like found treasures: the smoothest amber stone glimmering in the creek bed, the tiniest acorn dropped too soon from the oak, the downiest gray feather clinging to the rose bush. Talismans. Augurs. Omens. Somehow they always slipped away.

I wanted so badly to make sense of each day, drop into bed satisfied and yawning, emerging each morning shining and whole, ready for Joy because – and this is true – Joy is everywhere. It’s right here in the kitchen in the buttered up frying pan, in the sizzling egg. Oh, and here it is again, in the sweet, firm kiss from my husband as I stand against the sink, dirty dishes piling. Now for some more Joy from the tail-wagging dog, her head in my lap, and in the gap-toothed grin of my four-year-old when she comes running to me after putting on her socks by herself. I sweep her up into my arms and…and…and what? I am fleetingly happy in the glow of others’ happiness, but Joy does not seep through my skin, douse my heart and stay.

How is it that a seemingly simple desire is so complex? It wasn’t until the very end of the year, prompted by the entirely frustrating loss of my umbrella on a downpour of a day, that I unearthed the reason: I didn’t have room.

Before the sizzling egg and the kiss from my husband, before the warm snuzzle from the dog and the gushing, dressed-all-by-herself girl, there is the filling up. Leftover crap from the day before, to-dos that didn’t get done, voice mails I could barely bare to listen to, emails left unanswered. That very morning, before my alarm had a chance to go off, the little one woke up, darkness still full and fallen.

“Mama! I have to pee!” Her little girl voice was urgent and at the other end of the house. My heart beat a little harder. “Go ahead, then,” I called out from my bed, directing my snagging voice out the slightly open door and down the hall.

“No! With you!” she replied all sullen, edgy, defiant.

Her plea pierced my skin and took up residence on my insides. This is how I begin to fill – not with serenity or joy, not with satisfaction or knowing, but with a low pulsing sensation that is not my own. Before I’ve had a chance to palm my own material, I am being filled with someone else’s. Must I really come running to escort my potty trained four-year-old to the toilet? If I don’t, do I fail motherhood in one fell swoop or just suffer the toil of cleaning up a peed in bed? Downstairs my older two girls commenced their daily sniping over breakfast. My chest expanded with anxiety and worry. My head brimmed, my marrow boiled, my bones swelled to the size of blubbery whales threatening to breach. Laden, glutted. Full.

And so. I lost my umbrella and cried and cried over it and a million other bits of grief and slivers of sadness I didn’s know how to deal with. After the tears and snot and heaving heart came the opening. First I filled it with deep breath after deep breath and when I exhaled and exhaled and exhaled all that was left was space.

What a relief. What a revelation. Yes, yes, yes: this is what I want.

Carving out and keeping space available is a constant practice and in this first month of the year, I’ve been practicing. It’s not just emotional space I’m after. There’s much to be done in the physical world, too: stuff to get rid of, commitments to reevaluate, people to let go of. Maybe not much has changed on the outside, but inside there is a flinging open and a real effort to stay open, no matter what might be coming at me. I am learning to make room, flourish in my own space, know myself entire and whole.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is: “In 2015, I learned….” or “The one thing I learned in 2015 is…” FTSF is hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee, Kerry of Her Headache and this week’s sentence thiner upper Vidya from Collecting Smiles.

26 comments on “What I Learned On the Last Day of the Year

  1. I’ve missed reading your writing ever since we wrote together in Jena’s group. This post filled me with your words in such a needed, powerful way. What you share here? It touches on something so deep within. You’ve expressed something that I didn’t know how to articulate. Thank you thank you thank you. xo


  2. Catching up on my blogs…loved the kind of unraveling quality of this. Here’s to space…


  3. SPACE… oh yes, SPACE! Lisa, you so beautifully painted that picture of life over-whelming, just too full to the brim, constantly giving and never allowing room for SPACE- just as so many of us live! This is poetic brilliance. You have SUCH a gift with your words. I’m so so glad I came here…

    Sharing this masterpiece!


  4. Your writing is beautiful, as I’m sure you’ve heard before. You describe the demands of motherhood and LIFE so perfectly and yes, you are right – it is space that I desire when I’m feeling smothered by my stay-at-home mom life. Sometimes the space is physical, sometimes emotional, sometimes both. What a fantastic lesson you’ve learned and even better, that you’ve conveyed it to so many of us who I believe need to learn the same thing.


  5. Ah, this feels like me, but I didn’t know it until I read it. Beautiful Lisa. I’m proud of you for practicing, for making room, for knowing yourself. Proud in a non-condescending way, proud in an “I want to do this too” kind of way.


  6. Oh yes to carving out space, figurative and literal. I’m feeling that way also. My first year in a new town was easier to remain solitary, to guard my time, but now that we’ve been here longer I have more commitments and relationships to juggle, and like you, I only have a certain amount of space, and some things don’t get to infiltrate it. Here’s to protecting our precious time in the midst of the clamoring world.


    • It sort of feels like constantly drawing back the curtains to let the light shine through, a constant clearing. Yes to protecting our time and space. xo


  7. Oh Lisa. As I read this, I could picture us, in the grass, in front of the fire, in Amherst, wondering what to burn, and I could picture myself, with a firm kiss from my husband, and wanting so badly to sleep while my boy could get his breakfast for himself but not have yet been allowed to do the sizzling egg, and the comfort of doing it for him.
    THANK YOU and I so very hope you know how much I adore you. Always.


  8. Yes to that last paragraph! I’m both proud of and so hopeful for you. Inspired, too. Hope my card that I thought I lost actually arrived. Think of you often! Thank you for you. xo


    • Thank you Emily. I have to check my drawer for the card…I can’t remember if it arrived or not! Maybe I’m making a little too much space (i.e.: getting spacey). xo


  9. Melted over and read the loss of the umbrella post as well. I am sorry about that loss and the other losses. And I applaud your efforts to fling yourself open and stay open – no matter what’s coming at you. Please know that this morning I was in your camp somewhat … the second of two lightbulbs blew in my bedroom so I had to dress in the dark, my cell battery was nonexistent and I slept in. I was a decided grumpy pants. Now, with a soggy dogwalk behind me and long forgotten, the sun is out, there’s wine in the fridge and tomorrow is Saturday! Here’s to us flinging ourselves open to whatever life throws at us!


    • Oh my goodness Kelly – what a morning! I once heard someone say that it’s good to remember that the sun is always shining, even behind the darkest, rainiest sky. We just can’t always see it 😊


  10. Beautiful writing, as ever, and I so, SO hope you manage to keep carving out that space for yourself, and keep breathing those deep, nourishing breaths of free air 🙂


  11. Wow. This really spoke to me. I especially felt a “hell yeah!” after the last paragraph.


  12. Oh such details of a life brought to life, of a heart struggling with space like my own does. Thank you, Lisa, for this clarity and the space your words have helped me open in my heart. It is always a joy to read you.


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