Renew, reminisce, and heal
It's Back to School, 2.0, pandemic times, and I'm not ready.
I return to class in a couple of days, and in preparing the kids for their return to school, I did not prep my own headspace for physically being in a classroom with other people, on top of returning to regular mom Uber duties. After a summer of apocalyptic heat and smoky haze, and the awareness that, eighteen months after the pandemic was declared, we have yet to get into the clear, I crave a reprieve, one in which I don't have a schedule or deadlines, I don't have to worry about my kids (What are the kids doing? Where are they going? How do I get them there? What sibling fire do I have to put out? Is their heart being crushed by some tween or teen social snafu? Have I stocked up the fridge? Does their laundry smell?), and I don't have to worry about the unknowns of navigating a pandemic that just won't quit. As a complete disconnect from 'regular' (pandemic) life is not possible, I'll settle for a moment of reflection, and share a few things that keep me going. I'm not necessarily firing on all cylinders, but I'm still moving forward. Ish.
This picture warms my heart for so many reasons: the first day they attended the same school together, the hand-hold, the height difference, the parallel gaze... Sometimes I wish I could go back, just for a moment, and hug my babies when they were still little.
Earlier this year, I lamented the loss of my bonsai tree amidst a mass extinction event here among the plants in the unforgiving environment of my kitchen. It doesn't feel good, knowing that things neither thrive nor feel nurtured under your care. Being an agent of death weighed heavily on my psyche. But miracles do happen, which are few and far between, therefore I tend to celebrate them when they arise, and share broadly. So behold, after more than a year of dormancy (and having to chop down both desiccated spikes such that for a while, my orchid was this flower-less collection of leaves and roots), a new spike (or inflorescence) shot up like gangbusters, and nine (nine!!) flowers bloomed this summer. I walk by this orchid every morning, and each time, I pause and smile, feeling fortunate that I got to experience this rebirth of sorts, and genuinely awed that something so mysterious as a blooming orchid plant happened in my presence. Yes, I'm a bit of a dork. Maybe a spiritual dork. But still a dork.
A gentle reminder to the soul that new beginnings await. Be kind to yourself, and be patient.
Taking comfort in the nostalgic sounds of a 2014 synth wave song may not be your cup of tea, but I have to say, for a gal that loves 80s music, this piece by The Midnight, called "Los Angeles," hits all the right buttons for me. When my sister introduced it to me earlier this year, I truly enjoyed how its rhythm and sound effectively evoke a specific time and place. Listening to it as August slipped into September, I was struck by how it captures that feeling of not wanting to let go of summer just yet, the heightened emotions of youth, and that inescapable knowledge that no matter how much we want to hold on to care-free moments that are saturated in colour and sensation, "Tomorrow we'll go / Back to our lives / With sand in our skin and sun in our eyes." From the opening scratch of vinyl over the synthesizer and the laid back swing of the drum beat, to the longing of the melody and lyrics, there's a welcome contentment that comes over me as I dance in my kitchen, reminiscing about a time when I had far fewer worries, yet still being present enough to enjoy moving to the lyrics and the music. During moments like these, it feels good to be alive.
In late 2019, I came across a book at a local bookstore and became so enamoured and enchanted with it that it not only made its way home with me, but assumed a place of prominence in my house - it's the only book for which I've ever intentionally sought a pretty display stand, and to this day, remains proudly on display in my living room. This book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, by Charlie Mackesy, is a beautiful work of art and a soothing balm for our battered souls during troubling times. This is no ordinary picture book, as the gentle musings within speak to the healing power of empathy, love, and self-care. It's been a long time since my kids and I read books together out loud, a nighttime tradition of the past, but my tween and teen sat down with me, nearly two years ago, and read this book with me, cover to cover, drawn to Mackesy's illustrations, and his words of wisdom, tenderness, and hope. Since then, in times when spirits are down and the soul feels a bit bruised, we come back to this book to reaffirm what's good and true.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy. If you have not read this book, do yourself a favour. With enchanting illustrations and a few quiet yet powerful words, this contemplative and thought-provoking work will touch you and leave you spellbound.
From The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.
Inspired, inspiring, and life-affirming. Illustration and text by Charlie Mackesy.
It's been a tough eighteen months, between what seems to be a world gone mad and the desire (and need) to keep carrying forward for our families and communities. Surviving, yet not quite thriving. But I think that if I'm still able to pause and appreciate the beauty of an orchid, put down the dishes and dance for the entire six minutes and thirty seconds (!!) of a song like "Los Angeles," or take some time to find inspiration from the soulful conversations and observations of a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse rendered in calligraphy and watercolour, I haven't completely gone down the rabbit hole. I'll keep reminding myself that these moments surround us and can be found if we take the time to feel their presence. I hope that these moments find you too, and that they bring you comfort as you renew, reminisce, and heal.
Until next time,
Mackesy, Charlie. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. Harper Collins Canada. 2019.