Wherever You Are Is Called Here: Poetry from David Wagoner

Hiking on Mt. Tamalpais, CA.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.

Bird on branch, UC Davis Arboretum

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~David Wagoner

Words are the spark that ignites my soul. I am a collector of language in all forms, not a hoarder. The extraordinary beauty of the written word must be shared. These monthly posts, inspired by another’s words, are my gifts of beauty and spirit, shared with love.

 This beautiful, meditative poem by David Wagoner found its way to me via The Writer’s Almanac.

“Lost” by David Wagoner from Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems. © University of Illinois Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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From Full-Time Mom To Full-Time Me?

From Full-Time Mom To Full-Time Me?

Happy times in my happy place.

That’s all I could think of to caption my Instagram posts for the ten days that my family of four was sleeping under the same roof. That, and #ilovemykids. And #summertime, and #tahoelife.

The last ten days have been the best out of the entire summer because my entire family – the four of us – has been together.

Together at Happy Camp - Squaw Valley, CA.
Together at Happy Camp – Squaw Valley, CA.

This is the first summer that my daughter hasn’t lived at home for even part of it. Since 2005, both my kids usually spend a chunk of summer ski race training at Mt. Hood, Oregon, and then for the last four years Lily has worked as a camp counselor there, too. But this year is her first year with two ‘real’ jobs in her college town, and she decided to rent an apartment and stay there.

This summer has been so different. This is the summer I’m really feeling the big shake-up happening between being full-time mom to full-time me.

It’s not really just that she hasn’t come home and put things away in her dresser; it’s not even that I had to go to her apartment to hang out and have sleepovers.

I think the different part of this summer has been how it’s gotten me thinking about how much it is the first summer of life transitioning away from what I’ve known for the last twenty years, away from me being a full-time mom to two and towards being full-time me.

That’s so very different.

full time mom

Before I was a mom, I was a wife and a teacher – but not for very long. I’d only been teaching for five years, married for two; I hadn’t really settled into either identity. When Lily came along I just added ‘mom’ to that identification, and quickly found – as most moms do – that the label of ‘mother’ far superseded any other.

Add in another baby, and twenty years later I’m sitting on the deck in my happy place, feeling tired and slightly sunburned from a long hike, listening to the wind blow through the pines while she sits, curled up across from me, and trying desperately not to think about tomorrow morning when I drop her at the airport and four becomes three again until Thanksgiving. Trying to live in the moment, in my happy place.

Hiking to Five Lakes, Alpine Meadows, CA
Hiking to Five Lakes, Alpine Meadows, CA

Watching my two on the trail today, climbing side by side next to the mule ears and Indian paintbrush, my heart swelled with love. Snatches of their conversation drifted back to me as they plotted their next adventure together (hiking in Wyoming) and I realized that life has a way of transforming different into normal so gently sometimes I don’t even notice.

So this is the next stage, the new normal of raising teens-turning-into-adults. I’ll be catching glimpses of the adults I’ve hoped they would be. I’ll be watching them from behind, noticing the lessons being put into place. I’m sure the identity of full-time mom will gently transform into full-time me, with countdowns on the calendar until the next time we’ll all be in our happy place together and full-time mom can rise again.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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3 Awesome Reasons To Have A Selfie Free Summer

It was a perfect blue sky day. We hit the road early (by teenage terms), and just about 90 minutes later found us in Pt. Reyes, California, ready for adventure.

It had taken some cajoling to get both of them to agree to go hiking with me; these days, getting both kids alone, together, is certainly cause for celebration in itself. It’s one of the things I miss most about them growing up, actually. The time I took for granted when they were little, time to just be together and hold their hands and explore somewhere new – all that isn’t as easily had as before.

Sunscreen applied, water bottles and snacks in our packs, we headed down the trail towards the coast. Everywhere we looked vibrant wildflowers dotted our view, and lush ferns and berry bushes obscured each side of our narrow trail. The hawks flew overhead, and the sounds of songbirds filled the air. It truly couldn’t have been more beautiful.

wild sweet pea flowersStopping to smell the wild sweet peas and snap a few photos, I found myself alone on the trail, lagging far behind my lanky-legged teenagers. Quickening my pace, I caught up just enough to catch a glimpse of them from behind. I’ve always loved the photos of them like this, when they’re not expecting me and in that instant, I imagine all the life they have before them.teens from behindI’m sure even the hawks could see the joy etched in my face on this glorious day; glimpsing over their shoulders I could just catch the shimmer of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. “Turn around, let me take your picture,” I quickly called, worried they would be gone before I caught up. Surprisingly, they obliged, and as I got closer I added,”Let’s take a selfie.”

I’m sure the hawks could hear their groans of disgust, too.

“No Mom – no selfies,” their voices replied in unison as they took off along the trail without me.

What? No selfie? How would we ever remember we were there together? How would they look back on this day and remember I was even there at all? 

I’ve often thought the invention of the selfie is genius – the one way moms are guaranteed to be in the picture! How many moments have I been behind the camera instead of in front of it? What do they mean, no selfie?

Kicking into gear to catch up, I spent the next five minutes being schooled on the three awesome reasons to have a selfie-free summer – according to my teenagers:

1. “Selfies are stupid,” they began. “They’re not as good as pictures someone else takes and everyone knows it was a selfie. Everyone knows you know you took a dozen shots until you got the right one, and that you stood there forever while the phone was angled in just the right position. Haven’t you seen those selfie-sticks, Mom? Those people look so lame waving them over everyone’s head, and then they have to carry them around.”

Hmmm. Good point. How many times have I been looking out at a gorgeous view when someone suddenly jumps in front of me, spends minutes posing, snapping, checking, posing, snapping, checking…

2. “Selfies are for Snapchat, and that’s about it. They’re not meant to be saved…they’re meant to be silly.  How many times have you seen selfies where people look like they’ve spent hours perfecting their pose? Like they’ve spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror perfecting their pout or messing around with the right filters?”

Ok-agreed. As much as I dislike Snapchat (I can’t stand only seeing an image for seven seconds; heck, it takes me that long to find my glasses!), I really dislike the Instagram selfies of people staring into their bathroom mirrors, perfectly made up and serious supermodel looks on their faces.

3. “Selfies make you miss the moment. Just look, Mom. You’re concentrating so hard on getting the right shot, you’ll miss all this.”

I get it. Isn’t that what I preach to them every day? Pay attention to the little things in life. Be present. Be grateful. Look out for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Use your voice – ask someone to help you take a photo instead of staying trapped inside yourself. Look up, breathe, throw your arms open wide and take it all in. This is your moment.

Suitably schooled, I resumed my position at the back of the pack, far enough behind to think. They’re so grown, I thought, and I’ve still got so much to learn. I’m just going to let them lead the way for awhile.

Coast Trail, Point Reyes, CA

selfie free summer-mamawolfe

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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