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No Mud, No Lotus.

On Friday, I shaved what was left of Penelope’s hair. She decided she had had enough of it thinning and getting matted, and just wanted it over with so she could wear her cool wigs. She was clear and determined. What could I do? This is not about me. I grabbed the clippers. 

I had this moment recently where I took a mental inventory of everything that’s going on and I realized something: I’m still here. I’ve gotten through and am getting through all of these things. Maybe sometimes with less grace than others, maybe sometimes with lots of turbulence, but the fact remains: I’m still here.

This is a weird time, and there’s a lot to be anxious or worried about. But this time has also made me build the habit of constantly asking myself: what’s my problem right now? Meaning, in this very moment, is there a problem? If there is, I trust I’ll know what steps to take to handle it. (I have to trust this because my sanity depends on it.) But if there isn’t a problem, in this very moment, can I take a pause to be grateful, a pause for joy? Can I get out of my own head for a bit? If I don’t consciously do this, take a pause between thoughts, emotions, and reactions, I miss opportunities to truly live life. 

And that’s the thing I’ve come to realize, embarrassingly late into adulthood: I’m supposed to be living my life. Not lived, but living. Not supposed to have it all figured out. Not supposed to be running around or checking off lists. Not supposed to have all the answers, but to be living the through the process. To tune into and work through resistance, let things flow, be unfinished. 

When P was in the hospital, just a week after her diagnosis and days after her surgery, she was feeling better and asked to go to the 12th floor to the rooftop garden area. It was drizzling and overcast, so there was no one there. On the way to the 12th floor I remember seeing us, like really seeing us, almost from the outside: me, pushing our daughter in a wheelchair, Greg following close by wheeling the IV pole she was attached to, all three of us in masks. In a hospital, in the middle of a pandemic, with our little girl recently diagnosed with leukemia. And, for reasons I can’t explain, I remember feeling a very strange sense that everything was okay. We breathed in the fresh air. She caught raindrops on her tongue and admired the view. 

There are extremely difficult moments; anxieties, setbacks, treatments, and side effects. There are things she has to deal with and things we have to deal with. But we are doing it. We are living and flowing and doing the next thing that needs to be done. 

Then there’s virtual school. My son’s kindergarten teacher plays classical music in the background on the zoom calls it reminds me of those musicians on the titanic at the end of the movie. Remember how they knew the ship is sinking but decided to play Beethoven anyway? Yet somehow, we’re doing it. She is showing up and making miracles. He is trying. It’s messy, but this is where we are. So let’s dance. Because, while school is important, I keep reminding myself that they are learning far more from us in how we process our emotions, react to tech glitches, and manage our own stress than they are from online math.

This is a hard time for all of us, and what I think it’s done for everyone is cracked open the fact that there is no certainty. We hear the phrase “uncertain times,” but the truth is there are no certain times, there never was, and there never will be. 

We only have right now. 

We can choose to feel helpless or hopeless with this realization, or we can use it as fuel to set ourselves free. 

We don’t have the answers!

Nothing is guaranteed!

What I hear is: Rejoice. Own it. Take a breath, come back into your body, reconnect with your own energy. Have fun with your life. Find the lightness in your being. Don’t be reckless or idiotic, of course, but do find the joy.

Do find the joy

When this is all over, I want my kids to remember that I chased them around the house and played hide and seek when I knew they needed breaks.

I want them to remember that I lost my cool plenty of times and that it’s ok to be human and scared and frustrated. 

I want to remember that I let myself feel heavy things, let myself have those pity parties and meltdowns and strong feelings because it’s all part of the process. We spend our lives running from the shit that scares us (and we have some pretty fancy, expensive, and sneaky ways of doing so), but if only we knew that all our power, strength, and self-growth relies on us leaning into those very things. We could then do so when the moment calls for it, and grow through them instead of remaining stuck. We could heal. We could live and love so much freer on the other side.
No mud, no lotus.

Uncertainty is a strength. This is why I’m finding it so important to ask myself: what is my truth? Where do I want to place my energy? Is this thing that I’m harping on/attaching myself to/beating to death/giving my precious energy to something that is really important to me, or is it my silly little ego grasping at straws? What matters to my soul? Pouring myself a cup of tea and really sitting with that question, while messy and hard and certainly not pretty, is a form of church. 

Right now, we are in the birth canal. It’s dark, and it’s uncomfortable. It feels like the life is being squeezed out of us, and we can’t go back. We are participants in a process in motion. We can try to claw our way back to the safe and cozy place from which we came, but we all know those efforts would be futile. Or, we could go with the current and trust what we know in our hearts to be true: there is breath and light on the other side.

Grab the clippers. Pour the tea. Take a pause. Flow. 

I’m still here. You’re still here. What are you strong for this week?


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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Absolutely one of th beautiful pieces of writing from the most talented and best mother I know. You know the saying, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, well….it’s so true, you look at life from a completely different perspective when you’re put to the test. You realize that life is meant to be enjoyed every single minute., No matter what you are facing, you will get through it, just remember that you are not alone. Kisses to nuts to Miss P. and all of you.

That should be missed and hugs

This is beautiful Alessandra. I couldn’t stop reading. You’re so aware, so present in a situation I can’t even imagine dealing with. Thank you for sharing the insights you’ve gained.
Hang in there ❤️

Wow. This is just GORGEOUS. You sound so connected to Truth regardless of the circumstances. As you so eloquently point out, the Light of Truth is this very moment – we are that very Light, that very Life unfolding from moment to moment. All that’s needed is to place attention Here rather than running ‘there’.

“ What matters to my soul? Pouring myself a cup of tea and really sitting with that question, while messy and hard and certainly not pretty, is a form of church.”

This is such a beautiful reminder. Thank you so much. <3

” [The kids] are learning far more from us in how we process our emotions, react to tech glitches, and manage our own stress than they are from online math.”
So true. And true for ourselves as well. What do we observe ourselves doing and how are we being when things don’t go our way?
Do we stay in the question or do we go back into a pattern of frustration and defeat?

I’m strong for trust right now. There are some times in life when you just have to trust. P is trusting that she and her parents will get through a life threatening disease. A few weeks ago, I trusted that the four-inch incision on my leg would close without infection even though we had no power or water during the great Texas ice storms. Even when we cannot take care of ourselves, life finds a way.
The redbud that was encased in ice the week of February 15 broke out in hot pink buds today.

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