March 8, 2019
Hello friends (longtime and newly discovered)- and a belated “Happy New Year” to you all! Actually, what I want to wish is a “Hope-y New Year” (the word “hopeful” just feels too ambitious to me, so I’m toning it down a bit and saying “hope-y”– hope-like, close to hope, more hope than despair. . .). And since I’ve procrastinated until it’s almost Spring, this seems appropriate. Spring- the season of renewal and possibility.
It’s going to be an effort for me to maintain this level of optimism– my natural state tends more toward grim anticipation of Bad Things Happening. I’m going to approach it the same way my music teacher told me to tune my clarinet when I was first starting out– if it sounds a little flat, try raising your eyebrows. I guess this means that I’m going to be walking around with a constantly surprised look on my face, but it’s worth a shot.
Maybe I should have started out with my “mission statement”: Why “Swimming Upstream”? Why now? Well, I’m glad you asked–
I’ve been on an incredible journey these past two years, brought about mainly because I am a parent. So much of what I’m learning, though, is about more than just parenting, it’s about being human, having relationships, growing older, and knowing yourself in the most intimate, scary, empowering, authentic way possible. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, the most intense work I couldn’t have even imagined before this journey began. I have felt alone and scared so many times; fear is now my constant companion. My story, our family’s story, is unique to us, but there is so much in our hard-earned knowledge that, ironically, has made me feel my humanity and my connection to others even more deeply. I want to be able to share with you, and I really want to forge connections and community, whether or not you are a parent, in a relationship or not, male, female, questioning, young or old or somewhere in between.
Also, I’m not really good at keeping a journal. So, instead of writing for a guaranteed audience of one, I’m putting this out into the universe, in a “hope-y” way– so none of us have to feel alone. We just have to be brave enough to feel. And I think it’s a tiny bit easier if we can do that together.
“Swimming upstream” is a recurring image in my mind– to me, it implies facing adversity headfirst, following a path that is the exact opposite of “normal” or easy, the journey so rough and the water so turbulent that it’s impossible to see or hear if others are there next to you. It also implies a level of cardio and physical strength that I could only aspire to, but hey, I’m trying to be “hope-y” so I’ll go with it.
My limited understanding of fish that swim upstream involves salmon, who travel from open waters back upstream to where they were born so that they may spawn their own babies. So, it also plays with the idea of “home,” which is an essential part of any journey, heroic or aquatic. And it involves giving birth– again, relevant, because that’s how I ended up on this particular journey of mine. For the salmon, swimming upstream to mate and birth their offspring is the last thing they do before dying in their home waters. My journey isn’t finished yet, but again, I’m hope-y that mine will have a slightly different ending (or at least a prolonged in-between time from spawning to death! But dying at home does sound like the way to go, if I had to choose).
Finally, it is through reading the words of so many others that I have found strength, comfort, humor, escape, and reassurance that I’m not totally alone in feeling totally crazy. My first shout-out has to go to Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess, whose books and blog posts have given me the best kind of cardio workout- the gut-busting, crying- laughing-til-it-hurts kind, and so much more. Please visit her site if you haven’t yet: www.thebloggess.com. There are many more writers, doctors, therapists, teachers, and gurus who have lifted me up on this journey, and I look forward to offering my gratitude to each of them along the way.
For my friends and family (and my Ohana), my gratitude knows no bounds. Neither does my love.
Namaste– and let’s keep those eyebrows up. . . .