Words from the Willows and Other Wise Women of Winter

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After a grouchy week I went down to the river by myself. It was dry, but beautiful. I sat quietly amongst the dry leaved willows, shoulders tense and brow furrowed with whatever angst I was carrying around. After a while I heard my voice say out loud, “What do I need right now?” Sometimes I manage to remember that bad moods and behavior are a symptom of something that needs attention–be it in my children, myself, the crazy world. Usually the answer is something along the lines of “love.”

This time, I was pretty sure the answer was going to be something more like, “I need time alone! Time to write, time to sew, time to clean the damn house!” But those familiar whines were drowned out pretty quickly by these five words:

“I need to let go.”

Really? Again?

Yes. And it’s not just the willows giving me this message.

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My friend Becca wrote these amazing words about motherhood during the fall, and they moved me then and move me now. She writes:

“I work when I can, paint when I can, try to keep up my relations with family and friends, try to keep a house and little garden, and often these things fall short.  Mostly I am a mother.   I learned this new role hard way, the way only a new mother can learn things… by trying to be my old self and to be a mother at the same time. With those expectations came many disappointments.  I guess I eventually realized that it might be better if I just tried to be a mother first and the other things would fall in where they may.  As soon as I relaxed into this new reality of myself, I began to relax and enjoy motherhood. ”

Her words are simple and eloquent and come from a deep-heart place. I am so grateful to share this mothering journey with her.

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I have also found a new friend and companion in  The Mother’s Wisdom Deck. An old friend illustrated it, and two souls that feel kindred to me wrote it. They make no bones about the complexity of motherhood, and created the deck to, as they say, “shed light—and beauty—on the deep soul work that mothering entails.” My mothers’ circle is currently using this book/deck as our guide; each of us takes a turn leading the monthly group around a theme we draw from the pages according to what moves us on a personal level, and then bring it alive for each other.

This recent post on their blog, Mothering With Soul, speaks to the grief and sadness I feel during this dark time of year–Demeter’s season. It is a beautiful reflection on the loss inherent in mothering. While this story is about childbearing losses, even when our children are healthy, we mourn the loss of our former selves, or the child we imagined, or ourselves as the ideal mother.

“All of my losses have shown me this incredible gleaning underside, if I am willing to be curious, to to see the vibrant underworld, hidden from sight. In the height of grief, there can be no digression from its unrelenting presence, but when the grief settles, one can explore, with new urgency, what matters most.”

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Follow it up by reading Teach Your Daughters Wailing: The Power of Mourning Women. It will make sure you never choke back tears again!

What wise words are finding their way to you, these day?

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These pictures are from a Thanksgiving hike in Arizona, by the way. Posting unrelated images with your Deep Thoughts is a side effect of only blogging once every 8 weeks or so. See you in February, she signs off with a grin!

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5 thoughts on “Words from the Willows and Other Wise Women of Winter

  1. Thank you dear Kyce for sharing my words in your post, I feel humbled. How lucky we are to see all the gifts that we gain through our losses. I only hope we continue to see motherhood through this lense. May we grow old together. May we watch our children grow and have their own families together and then watch them grow old. And may we watch each other grow wiser with each passing year.

    Here’s to you sister.

  2. It is so often “let it go”… I have, not a few times, had that same conversation with myself 🙂 I have been struggling in the midst of two separate, but in some ways related, uncertainties and decisions that need to be made for a few months now, which really tap into a deep place of my sense of self-worth and contentment in who I am as a mother, and also as myself. Who I want to be, what I think that *should* look like if I was, what reality is, what the possibilities are. Letting go of who (when I’m honest) I know I am not (though I dearly wish I was) and creating space for who I am to grow clearer and stronger. Learning how to be ok with living in the midst of that redefinition.
    I’ve been having long conversations with other mothers about these things ~ no particular words of wisdom that I could repeat, but the process of speaking and listening, sharing and receiving has been a gift, and has allowed me, I think, to hear and know my own self better.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us ~ Annie

    • Annie, these are certainly wise words. Thank you for sharing them. I am so glad that you have friends to share these conversations with, for so much of the discovery is in the journey. And, reading this reminded me that sometimes, letting go is actually not the right thing at all. Sometimes we do need to push and fight for something with all our being in order to claim the life we are called to live. But, often times the thing I am pushing for, and making life hard to get, could be achieved by gentler means–letting go usually brings me to the same destination in a roundabout way.

      > Date: Wed, 5 Dec 2012 18:04:31 +0000 > To: akbello@hotmail.com >

      • I agree that sometimes you need to grab hold of a thing and pursue it even when it feels like it’s all a struggle. I think it can be so hard to discern sometimes when to push through the struggle because it is genuinely a need, genuinely the path you are to be walking at that point in your life, and when it is something that is more of a deeply held expectation – of your own self, or that you believe others have for you… Maybe it’s that there is a sequence ~ first let go, release it all and see what comes back, make space to hear your true voice, your intuition, and then move forward and hold on with clarity to what remains, what you see you do need. Letting go of the cluttered layers and holding on to the core.

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