Island Lullaby

In Hawaii, the sun sinks into the sea

like a burning golden coin–

you can actually watch it slip below the surface.

The clouds show off their colours:

peachy orange and cotton candy pink,

dark grey accentuated by strips of shining gold.

After it’s done, the sunset hurrah,

deep darkness falls quickly.

The winding island roads are bathed in blackness.

Everything fades away except ohana, family,

the small circle of warmth

around you and and your loved ones,

sipping wine and sharing stories.

With no streetlights to prolong the day,

it soon feels so late and sleepy.

Bed beckons after a day on the beach.

You’re ready for the windy palm tree lullaby,

that endless rustling of phantom rain

that is simply leaves swaying in the starlight.

The crickets convince you to close your eyes and listen.

“Be soothed, be soothed,” they sing.

“Soon enough the sun will return…

rooster will be sure to let you know.

Early and often he will call:

‘Get up! Get up! A new adventure begins!’ ”

The Persistant Insomniac

Late at night

her eyes are wide open

as two full moons

beaming out in the dark.

Inside fires burn

flames flicker and refuse

the stillness of sleep.

 

She gets up

grabs her book

a sweater

a snack

and keeps a late night kitchen vigil

with insomnia…

–this date with quiet–

delicious silent solitude.

 

She feeds her soul

with bread and words,

then rubs her fingers together,

lights the surrounding gloom with sparks

and writes fire!

Intoxicating Dance

Oh the passionate dance
of a mother in the evening
as you rock and sway
your feverish child
who clings to you with far away eyes
half-open and heavy

Classical music bursts through the darkness
with delicate yearning
and ebullient beauty

How beautiful and terrible
this ballet…
your hands caressing the little one’s back
as you rock and sway
–a living cradle–
an exhausted ark
carried upon the waves
of wakeful nights

And as you dance
you long
for the intoxicating embrace
of sleep
to carry you away like blossoms
floating down a rapid river

Think not of waterfalls
for they come soon enough
dance and dream only of sleep

K.I.S.S…keep it simple, sweetheart!

Sometimes as a mom it can be easy to get drawn in a million directions, until you find yourself stretched thin, as Bilbo Baggins says, like butter spread over too much toast. It could be million good things…family, friends, hobbies, writing, work, reaching out to those in need…all things you’re passionate about, but–when added up–require more than you can reasonably give.

When this happens my mother-in-law, who happily is a great friend, reminds me to K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart (or stupid…whatever works!). Time to step back, re-evaluate priorities, and see how things can be simplified so the most important things don’t suffer. What really matters most? Which things are too important to mess up? As my friend Monique told her teenage son when he was feeling overwhelmed: “You can’t do everything well. You can do a few things well or everything badly.”

It’s hard to step back from the frenzy of constant multitasking to quietly reflect. But it is also essential. Socrates said that the unexamined life was not worth living. Can we really say that we are living intentionally, that is with passion and purpose, if we don’t periodically stop to reflect on life?


This rhythm of action, rest, and reflection can help bring more harmony to our lives and help us to be more present to the around us who matter most. This is why we need a special day each week to rest, pray and play (and not just soccer tournaments!). But we also need these moments every day. Tiny moments to gather ourselves and be recollected, so we can better face the chaos. I’m primarily writing this for myself. The other day I was texting two separate people at the same time while looking up something online and feeding my baby. Crazy…

In a recent talk I watched (in an online conference for moms) by a psychologist specializing in eating disorders, the speaker said that one of the things that drains our willpower and saps our strength (besides lack of sleep) is making many decisions.. . This could be in tricky meetings, in navigating traffic, making dinner while juggling kids, or even the many tiny decisions of how and when to respond to the beeps and bells on our phone. So I’m pretty sure that constant multitasking, and all the decision-making it involves, is something that drains our will power and makes us susceptible to impatience and exhaustion. This does not help us be the best mom, spouse, friend etc, we can be.

Dr. Susan Pierce Thompson said there are a few things studies have found will restore our will power, and recharge it like a battery pack getting plugged in. These things make us more able to calmly cope with life’s challenges. These were:

1. Sleep (I’ve heard of it…😉) Without sufficient sleep our will power is seriously compromised. Rather than trying to ruthlessly carry on, Dr. Susan recommends becoming a “sleep-seeking missile.” Get a nap in or get to bed ASAP. So many emotional struggles are simply signs of sleep deprivation. 
2.Temporal, sensory contact with friends…that is social time that is face to face or at least on the phone to hear a friendly voice and get an immediate response to our words. Online interaction doesn’t have this restorative function. 
3. Meditation. Even 3-5 minutes of quiet, deep breathing. In your office…or even bathroom (till the hoards of toddlers find you!) or on a walk outside.
4. Prayer. Brain scans show our bio-rhythms become more calm and we are better able to cope.
5. Gratitude. Make a little list of things you’re grateful for. Take a moment to reflect and give thanks.
6. Acts of service. Doing things for others out of love. Freely making efforts to help another person be happy, instead of feeling sorry for yourself. Trying to do your duties cheerfully. 

If we find ourselves too busy for these things…for taking care of our own need for sleep, prayer and friendship, we should realize we are too busy and that something has to go, for our sake and that of those we love most, who may be getting the short end of the stick. We need to take care of ourselves, or we will run out of fuel to take care of others. This means even finding moments for our passions and hobbies. Things that take us outside of time and make us forget everything else…dance, writing, skating, playing music or whatever makes you really happy. Dr. Susan referred to these kinds of activities as “flow:” things that make you feel like a kid again for a moment, and let everything else fade away, even just for a short time.


So stop, reflect, be grateful, and see what you can let go of so you have more time to play. And with a joyful heart you’ll also be better able to serve and to love.

Sleepless Bluegrass Blues

The kids and I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “Can You Canoe?” about the Okee-Dokee Brothers, musicians who paddled down the Missisppi River and wrote songs. Here’s the link if you’d like to see a preview on ITunes: Can you canoe?

So read this post as a bluegrass song with plenty of twang and a side of lively banjo…

I’m a stranger to the land of sleep

There are foreigners there, whose company I do not keep

And sometimes it’s enough to make me weep

To see the dawn rise upon my open eyes

I’m a stranger to the land of sleep. 

Now there must be, a secret lock and key

Something secure, but hidden from me

A way inside the sleepy isles,

Of that much desired country of sleep. 

So if you know a trick or two

A special drink, or ‘haps some ruby shoes

A certain way, to sleep before the day

Take me along, I’ll travel with you

As a stranger to the land of sleep. 

awake

In the dim, dark house

the furnace rumbles and blows

breathy hellos into the corner of each room.

In this airy darkness

I try to lie still

while my toddler—

having made his nocturnal migration

into my bed—

sleeps beside me.

The baby in my belly wiggles 

and flutters, 

hoping for a snack.

Such a boy…

not yet born

and already wanting breakfast before dawn.