Chop Wood, Carry Water

Photos of Fern and Leonidas taken by Jeff at the Sutro Baths

I opened up iPhoto this morning to discover documentation of an adventure, one that I was absent for. All at once delightful and disconcerting, I find myself feeling a little jealous on having missed out. Fridays are my “work” days (in which I try to accomplish the 80,000 things I can’t get done with a wee one in tow.). I plowed through a lot of menial tasks last Friday, including adding up my internship hours to report to the BBS (only to discover I am barely half way through the required 3,000. Ugh). While everyday mundane work looms large, like it keeps the world spinning round, it often feels in contrast to the real meaningful-ness of it all. Frustrated at being interrupted for the umpteenth time while trying to git ‘er done, if I take the moment to look in her eyes, I re-member what it’s all for. Sometimes then, I feel guilt or sorrow that I am working instead of connecting…connecting to my daughter, to life.

Yet, this is an either/or framework that doesn’t sit well with me. Something feels wonky, and this morning, as I poke at it, I find myself slapping my forehead. I feel resentful about “work”. The menial “work” of being a therapist, of being organized, of being beholden. I scrunch up at the menial work of being a mom. The dishes. The mess. The dishes. The dishes. THE DISHES.

What is missing here is….ME. Where Am I, in all this? My body is here, but my brain is running amuck, galavanting off on some ideal homesteading adventure or wandering about in the wilderness collecting plants. I begin to fill up with dissatisfaction, with envy, with irritated grumpitude. Being here now is not just about when I want to be, when it feels good. It’s about being here…now. Now. Now.

Chop wood, carry water, and all that. (Click on that link for a nice meditation). Still trying to figure out how to be here now and continue to look for a new home, without solidifying either one with desires or “shoulds”. Or how to open to embodiment when I’m tired as hell and my physical experience is pain, without immediately jumping to how it needs to be fixed. I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, in honor of soft bellies and slow, elderly dogs, I am re-minded…slow, sink down, moment by moment. Blink my eyes to remove the veil, and open to the glory. And the shit.

And balance work with play. Something this family is good at.

We began Saturday with a trip to the beach.

And then headed up the street to the Outer Sunset’s hot spot, Trouble Coffee. We like to Build Our Own Damn House.

(The only item of clothing I bought in this photo are my boots and Fern’s thrifted sweater. Everything else was a groundscore, gift or hand-me-down. Gratitude and abundance.)

Leo came over on Sunday and we made Grape Soda (currently in the process of fermenting) and Valentine Bath Bombs.

Both were fairly simple and easy…stay tuned for tutorials on Wednesday!


P.S. Blogger and/or google chrome are still giving me problems and I can’t comment on your blogs. I miss the dialogue, but do know that I am present to your writing…I’m just on mute!

P.P.S. Terry Tempest Williams would like you to tell more stories.

P.P.P.S. I’m no longer prompt, but I’m still commenting on your comments from past posts. If you are curious, check back.

Happy Monday!






12 thoughts on “Chop Wood, Carry Water

  1. Mary, big sigh. I think you’ve nailed down a big piece of my struggle. I’ve always lived a big portion of my life envisioning things- places to go, ways to be, a life to create. And while this kind of creative visioning has been good in some ways, lead me toward whatever I was reaching for, it also has made touching down to the realities of life hard. Whether that was the smack down of day in day out work out in the world, or having to hold so much for my clients, or, now, the sometime slog of the not-so-fun-part of being at home (part-time, at least) with my son. Now that I’m sleeping a little more consistently, I have enough clarity to really hate the crappy parts of the day, like putting another damn load of laundry away, or sweeping up mess after mess after mess after mess. Even as I write this, though, I feel like such a prima donna, as my mom didn’t have near the choices I have had- to stay home or not, pursuer career etc. Yet, I still feel my grumpitude rise up when sometimes I just want to do what I want to do, without negotiation for time etc, etc, etc,. Anyway, I do believe staying in the moment is the only way to turn that frown upside down. That and deep cleansing breaths. I truly value you sharing your experience, because it helps me accept mine a little more.
    PS- I know you’re reading Gary Snyder these days. I’ve been meaning to share with you that my favorite poem of his is The Bath from Turtle Island. That was one of my visions for motherhood, partnership and family. Be well.

    1. veronica, i’m now understanding how we are similar in ways i didn’t know before. what you describe here is so akin to my own thought process. big resonance to the vision vs. touching down, feeling like a prima donna (or a “first world” complainer) and OH my tension around the negotiation for time and just wanting to follow my own rhythm without compromise. as i write that, i also get that there is a wholeness that i used to get from following my own timing, and without that, the last 2 1/2 years have felt fragmented. even if it has brought you more tension, i am uplifted by the idea that, i too will “sleep a little more consistently”. thank you.

  2. oooo, i liked veronica’s comment.

    ~Or how to open to embodiment when I’m tired as hell and my physical experience is pain, without immediately jumping to how it needs to be fixed. I’ll let you know how that goes. ~ and ~What is missing here is….ME. Where Am I, in all this? My body is here, but my brain is running amuck, galavanting off on some ideal homesteading adventure or wandering about in the wilderness collecting plants.~

    those sentences made me happy for some weirdish reason….you know, the kind where i relate so deeply, that it felt good cuz of that. not cuz i want you to feel those ways….duh.

    the banality of some, or a lot, of what we do just about turns me into baba yaga some days. or it does. chop wood carry water is so god damn evolved!!!!! who are we??? i love that question. or where am i? i love that one too. i have no answers. but i have noticed how the questions feel really good and helpful, right?

    zhi and olive would be so into those valentine bath things. SO SO into that. i like the pictures from papa’s outing. cute imagining that. when papas go solo, it is such a turn on! that’s one bonus to balance out the fact that you missed it! love. thanks.

    1. baba yaga! mmmm, thank you for that! i love her, so fierce, and so much more empowering than “me and my bad temper”. and the questions do feel really good, because it takes what can seem solid and then sends it into flux…then the whole thing becomes flexible.

      and i LOVE your spin on papa’s outing. you are the reframing queen right now, and i can use that. xoxo

  3. Oh man, you do look a little tired in that photo there, (still pretty Mary! but tired) I hope that whatever malady is inducing your fatigue completes it’s circle soon. It is difficult to be happy when the tiredness carries from one day to the next to the next, and you still have to be mama. Being present, i wish i didn’t have to work to that, wish that it came naturally, that i was always appreciative….life is so much more pleasant when i remember to be. I think that’s why i like the rain, because i pay attention to the sound of it. (Until it just goes on for a month and that’s just too friggin long, my washing ain’t drying, shoes are wet and then i wish for the sun again -mmm p’raps i’m not as great at being present when it rains as i first thought). I think what you put up there in that post helps all of us mamas validate and articulate our own feellings…you’re good at that lady, and thanks.
    Going to go now and reply to your comment on my post.
    Have a restful sleep

    1. teeny, i have to laugh at my response to your comment. the first of which is an urge to say, “no really! i’m fine!” and then realizing therein lies part of the problem. the second is the “malady” which, at least when it comes to fatigue, is in the form of a poor sleeping two year old. i wish she would resolve that shit too! i LOVE your rain metaphor, and then find myself laughing again at the circle you complete with “praps i’m not so present”. ha! love you teeny.

  4. Mary, a wise woman once said to me, “let your willingness do the work.” You are willing to be present, to be here now; trust the willingness.

    With love,

  5. wow. i know exactly what you are talking about (i think). i spent so many years wanting a different life. dying to live somewhere beautiful, with nature surrounding me. a simpler life. a quieter life. i ended up getting so frustrated and dissatisfied. meanwhile my life was going by. i decided that i would continue to work toward my dreams but i would no longer let them ruin my life (which i felt was happening). since then i have been much happier. am i living in my ideal surroundings? no. but for orange county it’s pretty darn good. i’m close to the beach and nature trails. i’m getting there. i guess i just decided to look at all the beauty around me. all the things i want i can have if i really want them. a vegetable garden-i only have a patio but there’s community gardens or the option of a potted garden. i guess it’s just all in the way you look at it. i realized i can live the simpler, quieter life no matter what the circumstances are. i know one day i will be living someplace i absolutely love and feel connected to but until then i will be embracing my life as it is. and knowing that sets my mind and heart at ease.

    that being said these pictures are adorable! the bath bombs rule! what a fun craft! and homemade grape soda sounds awesome. cute outfit too 😀

    1. that’s beautiful anne…you describe it so vividly and succinctly, and i can totally relate. i’ve done the same thing for much of my time here in the city. this type of mental jujitsu isn’t working for me anymore, i think because i am losing hope about “the one day”. there is a big sense of urgency and right timing that is dogging my days, and i can get pretty caught up in how something is “wrong”. what you say is a very good reminder, something i strive to return to, without the complacency that has come with it for me in the past. most of all, i love hearing about your own dreams and knowing we are connected in this way. xo

  6. And again, Mary, your post is so apropos. I’m in that swamp of wishing too, and being present (and accepting!) with/of my circumstances AS THEY ARE is so so hard. I drive myself a little crazy with my grumpy resentment, and I’m sure my partner, too.
    Being present. With work. So much resistance to this, here at work right now, escaping a little into the internets and mind-provoking writings like yours. But I’ll try for a few moments. Baby steps, I hear, and gentleness with ourselves. I agree with above commenters and you that the visioning IS so important; but balance! I too struggle angrily against what I feel to be the net of negotiating time for myself, time to DO what I want, to BE who I am…and it’s so so good to be reminded that I just AM, no matter what I’m doing, where I’m living.
    We’re human beings, not human doings, my friend tells me.

    Thanks again. Your words are so good.

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