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Leaving the Nest

cropped-nest-by-irish-eyes1-1By now, I know that this is how it goes. I expand into a new aspect of my life and the nightmares return. There was the one where I prostituted my youngest son. Or the one where my house was on fire. Or the one from this week where I cheated on my husband and abandoned the baby.

I don’t have a baby. I haven’t had a baby for 13 years. My kids don’t even need me. Not in that moment to moment, or even day to day way. In fact, when I’m gone they’re delighted. Not that they want me out the picture altogether, but that they welcome the opening that any familial absence brings.

And yet, each time I leave, I sense my world less secure. Threatened by my lack of attention–not so much because it’s needed, but because it’s necessary, as a ritual, of protection. Of vigilance. Of coping. Of childhood, mine, not theirs.

I have a therapist. I address these challenges as they come up, but they always return with the tide of life’s changes, particularly as I grow beyond home.

In last night’s dream, I was on a trip. I stopped at the police station on a city corner for help. Somehow my favorite sweatshirt was tangled in the traffic light lines overhead. I turned my back on my car only to hear it get hit by another. It wasn’t a bad accident, but my car was immediately pushed to the side of the road, by a bulldozer, and totalled in the process. Hood crushed. Windows smashed. Contents looted. Particularly during the night when I couldn’t watch.

At dawn, I returned to my vehicle, which had grown into a mini-van and then a trailer and finally a small warehouse, and came upon throngs of inner-city homeless shopping through my stuff as if it were a tag sale. I dashed after one object and then another, unable to stop the flow of my belongings departing.

I couldn’t remember what I had packed, and I couldn’t figure out what items were in greatest need of my protection. I stopped two women walking out with my books, and I said, “Those are mine,” and to my surprise, they seemed to care, not so much about the contents in their hands but about me. They asked if I had food. They asked if needed money. When I explained that I had eaten breakfast and that I had insurance for my things, they looked at me differently, and with that, they turned, with my things in hand.

Just then I saw two large men walking off with my Baggalini purse and tote bag. Finally, I was certain of something I should protect in this chaos. I ran after them, and then paused, considering if the belongings were worth my life. The men looked threatening. Maybe the had weapons. I had left those bags on the front seat of car, which became the chair, at my desk, near the piano, in the last classroom in which I taught before leaving my career as a teacher.

I followed these men out the back doors and onto the stairs, and grabbed after my bags, explaining how long it had taken me to choose this particular brand for my international work; but then I remembered, that I had left that job too, and didn’t really need those bags in the same way. The men kept rummaging through them, looking for something they wanted. I kept hoping that they wouldn’t find my wallet and my computer, which I couldn’t believe that I had left behind. I called out for help.

My husband appeared outside the building, at the top of the steps, outside of what had become glass doors;  and he waved pleasantly as if nothing was wrong; as if to say…

Hadn’t I chosen this sale of my life?

This what happens when you leave.

This is what happened each time I turned my back on my life as a daughter. My mother started drinking. My cat disappeared. My Nana was killed in an accident. My parents divorced. We lost our house. Our family was torn apart. My mother got cancer.

Pay attention, Kelly

Pay attention.

Kelly is constantly distracted.

Kelly is a constant source of distraction.

Kelly needs to focus.

Looked what happened when you weren’t paying attention, Kelly! Look what happened when you went away.

For this reason, I am terrified of wanting more. Of needing something other than the gift of my family and our home and our lives together.

I watched my father lose his family out of neglect for “other.” I watched my mother lose her family out of neglect of self. I want to be responsible. I want to do it right. I want everything good to last forever. I can’t bear to be at fault when it doesn’t. It is all such a precarious balancing act.

But now it is morning, and spring is awakening on our snowy hill. Geese call from overhead, and new patches of grass greet me out the window. The smell of sugaring lingers in the air.

I am hungry for breakfast. I will make eggs in my kitchen. And in a week’s time, I will abandon my family during our spring vacation for an opportunity to expand and enrich my own life, with the hope that they will be safe and secure and sublimely satisfied themselves.

My youngest is at first appalled that I will miss the trip (that I so carefully crafted) to visit his brother at school; though later he confides that he’ll enjoy the time alone with his dad. His brother tells me that he’d be mad if I didn’t go, if I didn’t take this opportunity. As a freshman at college, he knows something about the push to leave and the pull from home.

In fact, he was the one who, at four years old, when I took him to the art studio to sign up for classes, and discovered that he was too young, encouraged me to take a class instead. “You can do it, Mom,” he said. And I did. Because he believed I could.

This is how it is. Loss comes with light. Growth comes with pain. Opportunity requires giving something up.

Sometimes life’s choices aren’t as simple as good and evil, right and wrong, true and false; sometimes they’re both good and right and true–all at the same time.

I went back and forth on whether this post belonged on my personal journey blog, Two Owls Calling, or on this parental journey blog, The Empty(ing) Nest Diary, and I wished there was some way to have it rest–in between. I want to visit my son and take this opportunity in my life. But I have to choose.

And so I leave this post here,

and head off to myself–there.

Kelly Salasin

(Click to head “there” for the companion piece to this one, written 10 years earlier: Lobotomy)

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I’m Selling Something…!

(Stay tuned for the next offering of How Full is Your Plate?)

No doubt I will regret the blatant choice of titles for this post sometime very soon, but in this moment, I’m capturing my excitement about learning something new:  How to share something worthwhile on my blog and be paid for it! (After writing for free for 5 years, this is a radical thought!)

And, no, I’m not selling my writing; that’s still freely offered. What I’m selling is a workshop that I typically offer one on one with individual coaching clients or in small workshop groups, but never with people far away, who have asked, but I didn’t know how; Until now!

thumbnailThe workshop was called: How Full is Your Plate?; and wait till you see how much it costs you online. (I’ve used my favorite number. And IF I programmed the code correctly, you should see the price when you click, BUY NOW. (Note: you’ll have a chance NOT TO “Buy Now” if you just wanted to peek.)

(Segue: I love PayPal. It’s given me so much freedom and flexibility; but you don’t need a PayPal account since I have one. You can just use a credit card.)

Back to The Full Plate Workshop. It arrives in your email box in three parts. It’s an activity you do with your family or partner or roommates or office mates, but it was first created in response to my first born when he hit the ripe age of 10 and started complaining that his chores were “unfair” and that he “had too much to do.” (Which, of course, was completely absurd, but there was no way to get through to him around this, until…

Gerald_G_Busy_MomTHE FULL PLATE ACTIVITY: after which he NEVER complained again. He was actually HAPPY about his small share of chores; okay, maybe not happy, but at least silent about it because he didn’t want to have to face the reality (and potential consequences) of The Full Plate Activity again.

Another bonus was that this activity was a wakeup call for my husband, who realized that he wasn’t the only one “doing everything.”

And lastly, as a mom, The Full Plate Activity provided a sense of validation and recognition for ALL I did (and do) behind the scenes of home and family life.

The best part is that no one knew what hit them. When the night came for The Full Plate Activity (Step II of the three part mailing), I made their favorite dinner and even served dessert…

…And then I put out 4 clean plates and a bunch of what look liked fortune teller strips, and life as they knew it changed…

Now, all I have to do is mention The Full Plate Activity and everyone gets moving on their share of the household work.

Does this sound like something you’d like to try with your family? Your partner? Your housemates? Your colleagues?

Contact me and let’s get started. That special price won’t be there forever. Unless no one tries it out. (Then the title of this post will be really embarrassing!)

(Satisfaction guaranteed by the way. No matter what it costs.)

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in *Workshops, Nuts & Bolts

 

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The King’s Fountain

(an excerpt from the upcoming memoir, which might be titled: Lila~the woman, the book, and the vagina; but probably not)

2664b05bc36988dada6eaf011c308888“Kelly Ann, close the door, you’re letting the air out.”

Did you ever wonder how you could let the air “out” when it was already…everywhere? It’s like giraffes in winter.

“Kelly Ann, close the door, you’re letting a giraffe in.”

Why does the door matter so much? Hadn’t you helped the King build the fountain, rock by rock, around a tiny pool, just outside the door? Why couldn’t you use that same door? And climb atop the rocks, and turn the fountain on?

He didn’t seem to mind.

True, he was rarely at the castle except at dinner time, and hardly much then. But he did make you silver dollar pancakes on Sundays and turned nickles into quarters from one side of your head to the other.

It was the Queen who ruled; but she might be so busy as not to notice…

You could, very quietly, tip toe down the stairs, across the foyer (with the dog barking), and into the forbidden parlor, across the vacuumed lines in the carpet, and then, a step down into the sunroom, with floor to ceiling glass…

If you were brave; if you were very, very brave; you might shove aside the heavy drapes (which you should never do), press your face against the glass (making messy prints), tug the door open (leaving paint chips on the floor), and slip outside as quickly as you could (taking the cold air with you)–to find yourself atop the fountain… like a KING.

“Kelly Ann!”

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in My own childhood

 

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Letting go like a dream, or labor, or swimming under water

klimt-mother-and-childThough she could probably count the times she’d cried as an adult, she found herself randomly weeping throughout the entire college orientation weekend.

Shit, she thought. What did I get myself into?

She thought she was ahead of the game of loss given her advance work on the blog and the book entitled, The Empty(ing) Nest Diary (END). But there seemed to be no escaping any of it. It was a lot like labor in this way. Unpredictable. Chaotic. Tender. Remarkable. Excruciating.

By the second day, she began to feel that she was caught up in a bad dream. Her son’s impending absence was so thick around her heart, that she felt the need to hug him, but she couldn’t find him—not in the bookstore, or the meal tent, or in the lounge or  in the residence halls.

Once or twice she thought she spied him among the crowds, and she even ran toward him, only to discover that it was another handsome young man who did not belong to her.

When she crossed paths with his friends,  she had to restrain herself from embracing them, though she did over eagerly greet them with a desperate joy.

“Have you seen Lloyd?”she’d ask, trying be casual, as if she was just making conversation, not letting on that in fact she was caught in a nightmare where her son was just around the corner, but she’d never find him. Again.

When she finally did stumble upon him, the real him, on a tour, she hugged him. In public. In front of strangers. He didn’t seem to mind. Too much.

They would meet for lunch. She placed herself at the first table in the tent, facing the entrance so that she wouldn’t miss him; and still she looked behind herself every 10 minutes just in case she’d been distracted and missed him rushing by.

But he did eventually arrive, and even returned to her table once he found some lunch. It was a light meal and quick conversation and then he was off again with his friends.

Suddenly she realized that this is how it would be.

He would breeze in and breeze out of her days like breath after a long time underwater, and she would be both refreshed and emptied in the space she created inside to receive him.

She resented this. Because of her father.

 

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Losing my familiar

empty nestWhat is it about 3:30 in the morning?

Is it me or do others find themselves wide-eyed at the wrong time too?

Last night I woke in an unfamiliar place. (Inside and out.)

There I was, in someone else’s home, in some else’s bed, in someone else’s suburban neighborhood, outside of someone else’s city… only it was my son’s city now too.

We were there for parent weekend; we had been thrilled to come; THRILLED; but after we dropped my son back at the dorms that first night, everything felt wrong.

At 3:45 am, I ached for my own bed, in my own home, on my own dirt road, in my own rural community 200 miles away; but in the dark of the night I realized that it had become a stranger too.

My entire life had.

At 4:00 am, I considered re-arranging my bedroom once home so that my bed was facing south again; but even in my imagination, I knew it wouldn’t be enough.

I had lost my familiar.

There is something to mothering that steeps one in the familiar, in home, in the timelessness of connection and belonging.

As a child myself, I moved more than a dozen times so I never fully experienced this deep hold until my body became my baby’s.

Once he was beside me, I no longer relied on the company of my blankie which traveled across the country, and the sea, to be my home.

At 4:20 am, I considered the stretch of life ahead of me–without my son–and decided that it might be time to bring my blankie back to bed.

(ps. it’s actually 2 blankies and a stuffed puppy)

(And here’s a tune for all those seeking “home”

 

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Wild Inside

Fine-Art-Pacific-Beach-Belmont-Park-Merry-Go-Round-Roller-Coaster-HDR

Parenting… Carousel or Roller Coaster? (photo: Scott Campbell)

Remember when you’d trip over yourselves
to be the first one up the stairs
to see the baby’s face
when she woke?

Or years later,
on pick up day
at overnight camp
when you and your husband
shoved each other out of the way?

Tomorrow is a day like that.

It’s been 6 weeks
since we left our son
at college.

On that day, we played it cool.

But tomorrow,
No way.

I want to be the first one to feel his skin against mine,
and I don’t care if I look foolish.

This is how it is.

So many hours,
of so many days,
over so many weeks,
through so many months,
of count-ed years,
in abject Mundanity…

Are
really
the
most
Wild
Ride
of
Your
Life.

 

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Dreaming Goodbyes

(Jean Ryder)

Moses basket (image: Jean Ryder)

Cold Autumnal air invades my summer evenings, and I feel the chi drain from my body as if it were a tree.

Two nights in a row, I get into bed before 8 and sleep a dozen hours.

The following night my husband wakes me like a newborn, as he shuffles from our bed to the bathroom and back again, again and again.

The next night, our youngest, the 13 year old, does the same.

The third night, I wake on my own, but can’t get back to sleep.

I look for the moon, but it’s dark outside. I  consider my cycle, but it’s still a ways off. I review my day, but there was no caffeine.

I remember then.  My son is missing. The first-born. The one to be 18 tomorrow. But he’s just over at a friend’s house, for now.

In a week’s time, he’ll be gone–for good–off to college.

As the hours pass, I grow sleepy, and the lamp shade that sits on my floor, waiting to be mounted, becomes a Moses Basket, the one he sleeps inside.

I could pick him up, but I let him sleep, and I sleep too… dreaming goodbyes.

 

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