This Thing Called Rhythm

So I took my advice and chilled out. I really needed it. The house did kind of fall apart. My grocery list was once again limited to milk and chocolate. We ate beans all week. We swung in the hammock and I didn’t even try to identify the birds singing overhead in the apple tree. That blurry picture up there? That’s one of Maida asking, “If I grow hair, do you promise to never brush it, either?”

And then this cool thing happened: equilibrium.

I cleaned the house, slowly but very surely. Made the menu plan and re-stocked the pantry. But I was still on the chill track. I took a nap with the girls, read a book in the middle of the day. Left the diapers overnight in the washing machine.

Balance finding its way to the center again. For a moment, at least, on it’s way from here to there and back again.

When I began studying Fertility Awareness, the first thing my mentor taught me was about cycles. You may have noticed that women operate in a wholly cyclical way. There is the really big cycle of our fertility across the lifespan: first infertile as girls, then the fertile, childbearing years, then the post-menopausal infertile years. Then within the childbearing years we have cycles of infertility then fertility and again infertility each month (or so).

In other words, fertile phases follow fallow phases.

Our creativity waxes and wanes, too. We need the quiet, inert times to rest, all the while gestating ideas that will in their turn be manifested by our hands. The seasons guide us in this, as well–candles on the table in winter, flowers in summer. Inward, outward. Doing, resting.

And so it is with all our extreme eco ways, our plastic-free times, our hanging-laundry-on-the-line times, our never-going-to-drive-again times, our never-buy-anything-new times. Have you noticed? They come in fits and starts, forward and back, forward and back. All the while there is momentum. However small or large, whatever direction it is going, each step brings us farther down the road from where we started.

I promise.

We go through phases of inspiration where we DO and exhaustion where we DON’T. And they are neither triumph nor failure. This is simply life, unfolding in the rhythm it was meant to.

Now, for men, fertility is a different game. They hit puberty and Boom! producing 2,000 sperm a second pretty much till death, at which time the rate declines a bit. And it’s that incessant model of fertility that drives our culture. We are taught to be productive pretty much all the time. Write a book? Quick, write another. But you know, other cultures don’t buy into this. They do things like take siestas.

Which is just what I did today after a marathon round of de-cluttering. As I napped I fantasized about putting all my scrawled pages of journal entries and too-big-to-be-a-blog-post ramblings into a free e-book called Manifesto of an Extreme Eco Housewife.

But fortunately I don’t have even a clue what an e-book is, or how to make one. So I went back to sleep.

Keep on keeping on, friends. We’re doing fine.

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14 thoughts on “This Thing Called Rhythm

  1. I’m so glad I linked to you last year when you were on the plastic-free ride and so glad that I have continued to keep you in my browser! Your sweet words of acceptance are lovely for all of us mothers to hear, for when we are on top of it all and for when we are not (especially for when we are not). It is good to remember life as women in cycles, true and helpful. Also true that this culture in particular really runs counter to that. Helpful to remember to silence the voices that say “you must do more. be more. think more.” No, we must just be. Peace to you and your sweet family.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful words. You are right: It is the simplicity of being–that spontaneous place from which we might be moved to create, or not–that should guide us, not the expectations we place on ourselves via the culture.

  2. Gosh, I am so glad I stumbled on your blog.
    Our woman’s cycle….we flow, and it is this way with creativity too. We cannot be separated from our bodies. I know when I am fertile, I cannot stop the flow of ideas and plans and dreams. But two weeks later, I am feeling boggy and grumpy and HAVE to turn inward. If I don’t, I miss important lessons about myself and my life…lessons from my inner wisdom. The mainstream calls this PMS and puts us in a position to summarily dismiss and ignore it. But we need the quiet time.
    I am looking forward to having my own debriefing week. I work outside. The home as a teacher, and also work at making a home. Summer is coming and I can rest properly!
    Here’s to mindful slacking!

  3. Could you please, please write a book when you’re done napping?

    I just love so much what you said here Kyce and identify so much with cycles in living. Cycles in everything. Seasons, family life, outdoors, eco living, etc…

    I am on a 6 day cycle with my exhaustion and enthusiasm for this move. My husband recognized this in me. I hit the bottom in terms of feeling tired and overwhelmed then I cycle back to “isn’t this the greatest thing we’re doing as a family”.

    This was so encouraging to me and gives words to much of what I have been thinking and feeling about how I move forward in this world of creative momprenenuers.

    I believe very strongly in seasons for everything and how some of these online women crank out and produce, produce, produce just baffles me. I can’t operate that way and it makes me feel “less” somehow. Until I come here and read this and then I feel “ah, here’s my kind”. A woman who speaks my language.

    And I think you already know this from what I’ve written but I napped a lot with little ones. When the kiddos slept during the day very often so did I.

    Thank you again.

    • Renee, I’ve said it many times, but it is largely b/c of you that I have perspective on the bigger cycles of mothering, and faith that this level of intensity won’t last forever. It has been amazing to watch you moving from one phase of mothering into the next, in which your energy is used in new ways. I’m glad your husband recognizes and supports your cycles with it all, and that you too have the wisdom to not be seduced by such nonsense (though no doubt that, too, comes in cycles!)
      Be well as you close this phase of your life and open into the next…

      • Thank you. But I’m serious about the book. I would love to read a book that encouraged me like your writing does. But all in good time friend, in the right season.

  4. I love these recent posts of yours, Kyce. I sometimes think there is a collective exhaling of mothers going on right now–Adrie had a similarly lovely post about relaxing at her blog Fields and Fire recently, and I have been feeling all of these same things for some time now myself.

    I agree that there is such pressure to produce, produce, produce in our culture, and somehow mothers have been caught up in that energy too. I think, though, that constant production isn’t the natural energy of motherhood–it is something more feminine, more cyclical, more organic to the authenticity of our lives as human beings, something quieter and slowly but surely creative, like a bell ringing or a fire slowly burning.

    I admire the many creative, productive mothers out there and take inspiration from their work, but I have realized that I myself have no desire to make the mothering of my child a money-making enterprise or a means of boosting my own self esteem. I want to be an intentional mother, not a professional one. Mothering does not have to be a career–it can simply be who we are, in our actions and in our hearts.

    Thank you, as always, for sharing your thoughts. I feel like I can always count on your blog to share words of truth and that is truly a gift that you offer to those who are reading.

    • Meredith–
      I was also deeply moved by those posts of Adrie’s, and I agree, it is like a collective exhalation underway. Thank you for that insight. And also for the beautiful images in your words here–seems to me like you’ve got a post of your own brewing on the topic (or did you do one that I missed?) Also, how wise to recognize the tendency to use motherhood to boost one’s self esteem. Let’s give it back to the heart and the hands, and let the head and ambition take a break.

  5. I am simultaneously laughing and raising a salute to you. Fantastic. As a farmer I’ve always treasured (and tried to remind myself, often futilely) of the fallow and fertile cycle.
    So wonderful to hear another voice for letting our lives follow their rhythms, instead of constantly trying to control everything and produce until we drop.
    Much love,
    Adrie

  6. You hit a nerve with your post. I’ve only started to notice that I have input and output phases and have never thought about it in terms of cycles before, but you’re right. It feels like filling the vessel in order to be able to pour anything out at all. The difference between these two stages can be remarkable at times and being in the middle of one can feel like being swept up in a force. I’ve just started following your blog – and will continue! Thank you.

  7. Oh I’m glad I found your blog- I know I’m going to enjoy it here!
    I very much appreciate this post- it rings true for me- the ebb and flow that is so normal to us. Rather than fighting against it, to just ride along makes so much sense. Thank you for putting it into words, that I could not.

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