Embracing Expansiveness: Accepting I’m only human 

I was standing there in Girdwood, Alaska, freshly fallen snow all the way up to my knees. The expansive, looming mountain tops boasted a fresh white blanket, covering their trees and rocky faces. I wiggled my toes to feel them again. My breath was an endless reappearing and disappearing cloud until I tugged my snowboarding scarf up over my nose. And for a brief moment, I entertained the thought that somewhere in the world there was a beach. A warm, tropical, sun-soaked beach. It wasn’t that I wanted to be there, I just wanted to be able to embrace that complexity. I wanted to be able to stand in that snow and know, like actually know with every fiber of my being, somewhere a beach existed in that very same moment. But I couldn’t. Because even though my mind could know that, my heart was still in the snow. 

Compartmentalizing would be the fancy, clinical term for it. Us mental health therapists have lots of those kind of words. Enough of them to start sounding unintentionally pretentious pretty quickly once someone asks you to talk about what you do for a living. 

Compartmentalizing. 
It’s when you put things in boxes with labels, only opening one at a time. It’s when your mind shuts doors and refuses to accept the complexities and expansiveness of life. It serves to protect you, but it actually limits your understanding and perspectives at any given moment. 

I do it a lot. 

Not just when I’m in Alaska either. I go to work everyday where I am honored to hold the most vulnerable parts of people’s lives. I hold the trauma, I hold the space for their healing and then I go home and open some other box of who I am. Or perhaps, what I do more often is, constantly leave the “work related trauma” box open, even when I go home. 

Someone can tell me they got engaged and I can smile but really I may think, “Wonder how much the wedding will cost… wonder how many impoverished kids that would feed over the summer when school’s out… wonder if any of the kids or teens I work with will have the luxury or opportunity for something like a wedding.”

That’s because if you’re not careful, trauma changes you. Even realist, already semi-cynical, not-very-emotional, me. I mean I was the kid who drew cheetahs running around with bloody gazelles hanging out of their mouths. I saw the world the way it was, even in its messiness and wasn’t afraid of it. I never tried to run from it. Often, I ran right to it. 

Maybe that’s why I ended up in social work.
 My first gig in the field was in residential treatment for teen males. Every soul that entered that building had a rap sheet like you wouldn’t believe, and a childhood trauma history like you really wouldn’t believe. I remember thinking, “How is it that you are even here breathing, still going through the motions in a world that has been so cruel to you?” It gave me some empathy. I’d often also think, “Damn I’d probably done all the same things if I had had your life.” 

I really thought I could handle it. I was praised and pointed out for my calmness, my ability to navigate crises seemingly unnerved. My ability to walk up to the same kid who may have called me a bitch 53 times the day before (yes I’d count) with a fresh, unrattled attitude and a smile. But thinking your invincible is sometimes the worst thing you can do for yourself. Refusing to accept your vulnerabilities just causes the pain to become like a creeping mold, consuming you slowly from the inside out. 

And when I used to walk to my car at the end of the day, and reach for the door handle, I couldn’t keep my hand steady. I would shake. And I hated myself for that. I wanted to be as strong as everyone thought I was, as strong as I felt I was supposed to be. I would go to happy hours, laughing the loudest, swirling my big glasses of wine like I was the most careless person in the world, but really, I hurt like hell. 

One day after navigating some suicidal threats, attempting to break up several fights, and listening to a horrific sexual abuse story, I was called down the hall to assist my coworkers in a restraint of an older teen. I remember helping to hold him down, he’s screaming at me, trying to spit on me, calling me every name in the book, but his eyes, they just looked sad. 

And it was then that I could literally feel it. The pain took a life of its own and I could feel the trauma and suffering flooding from him into me. 

Afterwards, my supervisor sung my praises for another day well done. He said something along the lines of, “Your calm leadership is so appreciated here,” I smiled and nodded but my body reverbated with something ugly, something so much bigger than me. I held my arms out in front of me, turning them and scanning them with my eyes. I wasn’t bleeding or bruised but I wanted to be. I wanted some physical ramifications of my experience, but it was invisible. 

I went to the car at the end of my shift that day and held my hand out in front of me. I watched myself shake. Instead of brushing it off, I just allowed myself to watch that. And for the first time in probably years, I cried. I sat in my car shaking and crying and just accepting it. Accepting all of my vulnerabilities, all of my humanity, and most terrifying to me, all of my limits. 

That was years ago. 

But I still have moments where I have to remind myself I’m human. I still have moments where I have to say, “It’s okay, Kristina. It’s okay that you feel that way, it makes sense that you feel that way.” 

I have to start allowing the same acceptance and nonjudgmental curiosity I allow for my clients, for myself. I have to allow myself to have an unsteady hand at times and then ask myself what I need to heal from all the pain I am holding. I have to continue to give myself those opportunities. And you, whoever you are who is reading this, I think you should too. 

It’s so important. 

Sometimes I think if I go back to Alaska in the winter, maybe I’ll be able to do it. Maybe I’ll be able to stand in the snow and know there’s a beach somewhere. 

Because after all, that whole compartmentalizing thing, it’s something I’ve been working on. 

A Commute to Work: Finding Awakening in Routine


“Your greatest awakening comes, when you are aware about your infinite nature.” Amit Ray*

*

*

I’m about to put my car into drive and start my morning commute. As I tear away the clear plastic of a new CD cover I notice my fingertips are laced with green tea powder, remnants of my breakfast energy boost. 

*

*

*
I think for a moment that I can still smell the burning sage on the package, one of my favorite sensory experiences associated with visiting the Spirit Wind store. It is one of those places that grounds you the second you walk in the door. It’s one of few spaces for me where the earth seems to instantly stop spinning. 

*

*

*

My most recent visit to the store, I didn’t want to leave. Before exiting with a purchase, I asked about the music playing and bought the drum CD as well. She carefully added the item to my check out bag, her long fingers dressed in intricately designed silver rings, laced in turquoise and tigers eye. I thought about how I would adore working there. 

*

*

*

I put the CD into the car’s player and I begin to drive. The “Sacred Earth” drum sounds immediately have a deep heavy presence within me and my body is awakened in ways I had forgotten were asleep. 

*

*

*

My pulse seems to sync with the pounding of the drums. At times I am light and floating on soft spring-like drum sounds and then other times I am brought down, heavy like stones on more serious, deep songs one may associate with troubles or human suffering. 

*

*

*

The red tail lights of the morning traffic in front of me blur with the drum sounds and become the warm pulsing blood of fresh kills, reminiscent of times and people’s who were more connected and grateful to all sources of life. 

*

*

*
My thumbs thump against the steering wheel echoing the tunes of stories where all people and earth were aware of their oneness. I press my foot into the break but imagine pushing my toes into soft earth, my body moving and lifted in the dance of energy, life and freedom. 

*

*

*

My car comes to a stop and I am at work. I turn off the engine and the CD stops. But as I gather my things to leave my car, I stop and I listen. My heart beat reverberates with the steady message of the drums. My spirit cleansed in the reminders of things most of us have forgotten. 

Little webs of suffering and sacred grounds

“The story of the web of suffering and trauma can be a fearful, beautiful and sacred ground, for it reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit. It reminds us of the capacity we all have for perseverance, growth and healing.” 


Walking on the beach, I am meandering along the ever-changing line where the waves meet the sand. I stop to pick up a sea shell nestled in the firm, wet sand. I crouch down and rotate the shell between my fingers, inspecting. It is a brilliant yellow color and its delicate ribbed pattern is free from the abrasions and chipping the crashing waves usually cause on a seashell’s journey to shore. 

But I stop, my momentary excitement about the find has diminished. A wave creeps up and embraces my ankles. I decide to put the shell back where I found it and I watch as another wave tugs the little shell back out towards sea. 

The sea breeze blows my damp, salty hair into my face, and as I push it out of my eyes, I notice another shell. Unlike the crisp, cheery, yellow shell, this one is lying there content in mute shades of steel grey, beige, and dusty blues.

This shell has a spider web of divots and craters, some likely to be chipped away from its long tumble to shore and others caused by carnivorous sea creatures trying to puncture the shell and eat the clam. But none of the punctures or craters have penetrated the surface, perseverance, I think. 

I run my fingers along the tangled web of imperfection and decide it is beautiful. It spoke to me instantly. The story of a life that looked nothing like the pretty yellow shell. This shell spoke of troubles and of resilience.

The shell is heavy like a stone in the palm of my hand. Waves come up and and pull away at the sand surrounding my feet. I hold the shell and think of my work of being a therapist. I think of all of the times I sit in wonder, amazement, and inspiration at the capacity of change and growth despite hardships and trauma. I think of all of the times I sit awash in humility and inspiration at the sheer resilience of the human spirit. I hold the stories of hardship, poverty, and trauma with fear and reverence, just as I tenderly hold all the little abrasions in the seashell.

How powerful that capacity is to endure despite the messy web of suffering so many people experience. I run my fingers along the inside of the shell. Smooth and untouched. The clam is not the abrasions. The person is not the trauma nor the suffering. Although affected and often wearing the scars for all to see, we are not our troubles, we are not what happens to us. In the midst of our sufferings, we are imperfect, yet capable of being beautifully strong.

The sun is setting lower now and casting her blanket of golden, late-afternoon glow on the sand and sea. I carry the shell with the tender reverence of someone who has heard a story. A story that means something, a story that matters. I decide I’ll take the shell back to my therapy office. Perhaps this shell can share her story with more than just me.

The Cicada Song: Power through collective efforts 

When it’s cicada season you know it the second you step out the door, and sometimes before you have even left the house. This could be in instances when your dog brings various slobbery, dead and half-eaten cicadas into your kitchen, or when the cicada symphony is so loud you can hear it before you even open your front door. That’s the thing about cicadas, they have a presence, a collective presence. 

Until we started foster parenting, I had sort of forgotten that many children are afraid of bugs. Probably because I was the weird kid who would lift up rocks in search of insects for hours. They fascinated me. I would become completely absorbed in their little worlds and always needed multiple prompts to come in for dinner. 

“Ah!” He screeches grabbing me around the waist and hiding behind me. 

“It has a stinger! It’s going to sting me!” He continues pointing at a cicada in the midst of its sloppy, heavy flight. 
I reassure him that they do not sting. “Then what do they do?” He asks. 
“Shhh listen. Hear that?” I say pointing towards the trees and the hissing symphony. “That’s what they do, all together they do that.”

The cicada he’s hiding from comes dive-bombing towards us again and crashes onto the porch. I allow it to crawl onto my finger and show him its fire red eyes and golden transparent wings shining in the sunlight. 

“And this,” I continue, “is where it came from,” I walk over to a tree in our yard and show him the beige brown empty encasing of cicada skin, still clinging to the bark of the tree. 
“See it never used to be able to fly, then it changed and shed its skin,and when it came out, it was really different.” 
“What’s wrong with that one?” He asks, pointing to a cicada that has not yet emerged. 
“Nothing, it just hasn’t come out yet,” I reassure him and he bounds along into the backyard looking for his football. 

Days become weeks and more weeks and each day he checks the not-yet-emerged cicada. It has turned a deep black color and those fire red eyes hiding behind the thin layer of skin have lost their glow. I finally break the news to him and he gives a only slightly defeated shrug. 
I stand there as he walks off and I think about that cicada though. I think about how sometimes we do all we can for a positive change and it doesn’t work. How sometimes you use all the right techniques and the child’s tantrum rages on, how you call 20+ dentists and no one takes his Medicaid card, and sometimes when you reach out to countless workers to advocate you only get met with frustrated “We’ll get to it”s and voicemails you could recite by heart. Foster care is not for the weary, although it can make you that way. 

But as I look at that dead cicada, I still hear the collective song of all of those who did come out of their shells. I instead think of all of the times something did work, all the times someone answered my calls, all of the appointments I was able to schedule, all of the times I have tucked him in at night and he smiles in a way I know he feels safe. I think of all the times I have earned my wings. 

If you focus on the song you can have hope. If you focus on the song, you realize your collective efforts have meaning and make lasting change, despite any dead cicadas along the way. 

I turn back around and see our kiddo on the back porch. A cicada has landed dangerously near him and he lifts a foot as if to squish it. I want to stop him but instead I watch. 
The cicada crawls slowly towards him and he lowers his foot away from the insect. Instead, he squats down and watches the creature dragging its heavy body along. It adjusts its wings and then it flies away. 

Another cicada to join in the song. 

Grounded in Knowing Yourself 


If I had to choose a favorite smell it would either be wood-smoke or the smell of the bottom of my dog’s paws. I know, weird right? But sometimes after a long day I’ll press my nose into those warm scratchy black paw pads, nestled in tufts of white husky fur, and just inhale. It smells like the musty scent of dog mixed with the grassy soil smell of fresh earth, and it is amazing. 

I don’t know when I allowed myself to realize what my favorite smells really were. It wasn’t long ago though. 

But we all do that. We get caught up and day’s slip away and our routine becomes numbing. Before we know it, we don’t even know little things about ourselves because we have no time for even minimal amounts of self discovery and validation. 

When we know who we are and we accept it though, that’s when we become grounded. We become anchored with enough security to reach out and learn about, connect, and feel for others too. 

When you take advantage of opportunities to understand yourself, you will get to know your limitations too. It’s like looking out into the ocean before you go swimming and knowing there are sharks somewhere out there, you just want to forget that part. And we can get really good at forgetting.

 I have discovered that, for me, compassion is like a fuel tank. It’s not consistent. Sometimes it’s full and I greet the day with a golden glow and an invisible super hero cape flowing behind me. I want to save the world and absolutely everything and everyone in it. I stop on the sidewalk to pick up worms drying in the sun. I pack extra granola bars and tiny oranges, just in case I run into homeless people. Those are the days when my compassion tank is full. 

Then there are the days when I leave the worms, I avoid eye contact in the check out lanes, I choose the car lane furthest from the man with the cardboard sign on the corner. There are days where my soul feels like a storm is coming. I can’t see rolling black clouds, but I know I’ve used up all of my sunshine. 
Maybe we all have those days. 

But maybe something as simple as remembering and honoring those quirky things about ourselves matters more than I often give it credit for. Maybe validating our own existence and limitations is a start to validate that of others, even, well, the earth worms. Maybe honoring limitations doesn’t make us weak, it just makes us human. 
And maybe, just maybe, one day I will make a candle of dog-must and earth, even if I’m the only one who buys it. 

Peace crystals and tough love: A foster care moment 

“Look I found a real live crystal!” His voice bubbling over with the elated joy one usually can only truly experience in childhood. He lifts the stone to the sky and the late afternoon sun fills the stone, exuding a warm pink glow. 

I am sitting on the back porch thumbing through paperwork and setting appointments in my calendar. Becoming a foster parent forced me to change my scattered artist ways and become at least a bit more organized and parent-like. 

He brings the crystal to me. I am surprised he found it. A small piece of rose quartz I had bought years ago from the Native American craft store, Spirit Wind. I am still unsure how the quartz wound up in the backyard. 

“And here’s another one!” He bounds up onto the back porch holding yet another piece of rose quartz laced with bits of topsoil trapped in the cracks and crevices. 
“You keep one and I’ll keep one,” he states decisively as he hands me the dirtier quartz. A late spring breeze blows and expands his oversized t-shirt he insisted on wearing today, and yesterday. 

I smile, as I carefully take the quartz from his hand. “Thank you so much. I will keep it in my room and whenever I see it, I will think of you.” 

“Yes! We both have our special crystals!” He exclaims reaching his stone for the sky in a Power Ranger pose. 

“Let me tell you something else about these crystals bud,” I say bending down at his eye level. “These are really special crystals they are called rose quartz and they are known as the crystals of peace and love.” I rub some of the soil off of the stone and turn in in ways to catch the light. 

“Yes! This is the greatest!” He squeals as he sprints into the house and starts washing the rock with dish soap. He wraps it in paper towels with the gentlest precision, as if he is wrapping an egg. 

I smile as I watch him bring the stone to his room. But as I turn to walk back outside, I hear him say in the softest voice, as if whispering it to the quartz, “Now that I have this, nothing bad will ever happen.” 

My stomach sinks and my soul shrivels. I step away to breathe and gather my words. If only there were a rock like that, I think. 

“Hey buddy,” I knock on his door and I see he’s holding and inspecting the rock under his bedside lamp. “I have to tell you something about this crystal,” I gently take the stone and hold it up eye level. 
“I already know it’s a special..” 

I interject, “No, it’s not a magic rock. It’s just a rock. Bad things will still happen sometimes. Life is full of good things and bad things too. Most of the time we can’t stop them from happening.” 

His smile fades and his chest deflates as his shoulders sink into a slump. He runs his fingers over the crevices and bumps of the pink crystal, the magic, gone. 

“But this rock. Well it is special though,” I say rising my voice on the hopes of age appropriate honesty. “See this rock, well it is a rock of peace and love. Every time you see it, it reminds you that you can make choices out of peace and love, no matter what happens, even when bad things happen.” 

Still slightly slumped, he sighs and says nothing, he is holding the quartz near his heart. “But still…put yours in your room,” he says gently as I close his door. 

I place mine on my windowsill, just like I said I would. The milky pink glow emanates from the stone as the setting sun sheds its last bit of light for the day. I think of him and journey we are on now together, a journey full of good and bad things. I keep looking at that crystal as the sun goes down. 

Who knows, maybe it will end up being a little more magical than I gave it credit for. 

Lost Boys: A foster parenting moment


I rub my tempes and mumble the phrase, “We all do the best we can with what we’ve been given.” It’s a great thing to remind yourself of when you feel like punching someone in the face. It doesn’t always work though. I breathe deeply as the driver of the beat-up pick up truck who just cut me off in traffic tosses yet another piece of trash out his window onto the expressway. I can feel the initial prickle of my anger dissipating as I remember that if I had been dealt the same hand in life as this guy, I’d probably be cutting people off and littering the earth too. No one’s really any better than anyone else, we are all just doing the best we can most of the time. 

I turn the dial on my car radio and the song Lost Boys comes sweetly singing out of the speakers. Sitting there in a sea of red tail lights and preoccupations related to my work day, I change the station before the song is even over. 

The night after a particularly rough and rage filled night, our foster child asked me to color with him. It was the start of a new bedtime routine. All of my hopes of keeping his engagement and sense of calm hung on those coloring book pages and 38 different colors of freshly-sharpened pencils. 

While coloring together, he requested a song, Lost Boys. I fumbled through my phone and streamed the song through YouTube, praying the song wouldn’t freeze and thanking God for the start of a more peaceful night. 

And then he started singing along. 
It was like my very life force came to a screeching halt and all there was was his voice. My soul was struck by the resounding truth and validation of the lyrics with his circumstances. A song of being a lost boy, of following Peter Pan to Neverland and finding a place to fit in, despite the hand life has dealt you. My throat was tight and my eyes welled for a moment. We kept coloring. Coloring and singing of lost boys and Peter Pan. 

We all do the best we can with what we’ve been given. And that night, I did the best I could with a coloring book and a song, and so did he. 

It occurred to me then that maybe that’s all I had to do. Be a temporary Neverland. Let a kid be a kid in the midst of the chaos and messiness of life. Chaos and messiness that can happen to any of us, the best of us. 

“Neverland is home to lost boys like me and lost boys like me are free,” we lifted our voices together and the music notes danced on sketches made from colored pencils and the two of us doing the best we could. 

Beyond Mountains: Our foster care journey begins 


“Beyond mountains there are mountains,” a Haitian proverb that has had a pulsating presence in my soul over the past several weeks. It makes me feel expansive, hopeful. The words take me back to Alaska. A place of endless mountains, of feeling small. Feeling so wonderfully small. 

Maybe I’ve clung to that proverb because that’s what I need most lately. To feel small again. But after our long awaited foster care certification, there naturally came a child. And naturally the child came with little possessions but big baggage, a big past and was in need of very big support. 

And suddenly with it all, I had to be big too. Big enough to remember all the paperwork, the appointments, the acronyms, the workers. Big enough to make big decisions for another human being I didn’t even know existed weeks ago. 

I have to be big enough to hold, big enough to give, big enough to set limits, and big enough to forgive. I have to be big enough to wipe faces and wipe tears. Big enough to pour out all I have and big enough to hold the pain and trauma as more comes spilling out every day. I have to be big enough to be safe. Big enough to be whatever I need to be. 

But being big makes you tired. Being big makes you dream of being small again. And being big makes me long for mountains. 
Even the thought of endless snow covered caps sends a chill of hope down my spine and a weight lifts from my chest. A place for my soul to stretch out. A place to feel small. 
Beyond mountains there are mountains, I whisper to myself during the screaming rage. Beyond mountains there are mountains I think to myself as I mend the scraped knee after an intense bout of basketball. Beyond mountains there are mountains, I say to myself as I rock and reassure during the thunder storm. Beyond mountains there are mountains, I remember with goodnight hugs and best attempts to answer tough questions, questions that no child should ever have to ask. 

And when I curl up in my own bed at the end of a long day, I make myself small. I make myself so small. I listen to my heart beat, a steady pulsating sound in the night. Tomorrow I will be big again. I will do all I need to do again, hopefully a little better than I did it today. 
And as I lie there I remember that beyond mountains there are mountains. 

Perceptions 

Perceptions are like plastic wrap. They give you a glimpse of what’s inside, of what you think is going on, but they never give you the whole truth. What you thought was your leftover grilled chicken could turn out to be some unidentifiable growing ground of green, and blue mold. Clinging condensation on the interior of the plastic wrap could be enough to confuse you between leftover tacos and beer cheese dip from a party one too many holidays ago. Perceptions give you an idea but perceptions, well, they aren’t everything. 

Sometimes I wear that “I donated blood” sticker as if some degree of true altruism was actually behind my motives. I wear it as if I actually did it for a wounded solider or for a recovering car crash victim in a local hospital room somewhere, when really, I do it for me. I do it because lying there draining bags of my warm, deep red life source is one of the only places I allow myself to lie down with my eyes open. I do it because there I can momentarily release my fierce over self-reliance and never-resting industrious drive. I do it because it feels so good for someone in white scrubs to smile and bring me an apple juice with a carefully bent straw. Perceptions aren’t everything. 
 

We skip stones along the still waters of comfort as if we actually want to know other people. Like when we ask how someone is doing, expecting nothing more than a one word response. As if skimming the surface actually does anything. But we always do that. We always skip stones. 

But really all we want, is to be swimming. Swimming to the bottom of the last margarita where we can let go of what ails us. Weights of the world lifted in waves of salty sweetness and warm tequila. How good it feels to feel safe enough to be a semblance of our authentic self, regardless of how many sips that takes.  

And as I leave the white washed walls of the blood donation center, the receptionist smiles wide, her lipstick is dark red. The right arm of my sweater is rolled up revealing a wad of cotton swabs in the crook of my elbow secured with a band of white tape. The receptionist thanks me and hands me that “I donated blood today” sticker. I smile back and press it against my grey sweater. Squinting, I step out into the late afternoon sunlight where I peel the sticker off and tuck it into my pocket. Shadows of the trees lining the parking lot create shapes that could be anything. Anything you want them to be. 

Perceptions are something but perceptions aren’t everything. 

Finding the horizon line: A misty day in Resurrection Bay


I’ve had an affinity for nature of the north ever since I was a child. It was in my blood somehow, a pulsating presence and connection with whales, seals, and wolves; I yearned for the cold. By age 6, I was carefully constructing “pop up” books of humpback whales, complete with facts and the most recent calls-to-action related to their conservation and protection that I had read at the local library. I must have been such a curious sight to many. A Cincinnati girl pretending to be a wolf running freely in her back yard, telling everyone how to conserve creatures of the Arctic seas, and waiting patiently, with intense eagerness, all year for the first snow fall. 

This connection I had with creatures of the cold was unexplainable. Creatures I had never seen and yet could somehow I could always remember with all of my senses touching the bumpy yet smooth skin of a giant humpback whale or running my fingers through the indescribably thick fur coat of an Arctic wolf. It was as if my soul already knew these things. And now, as I sit on the snow covered beach of Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska, it’s like my inner child finally came home. It’s like the place I never saw but always remembered, the place I always knew with the deepest sense of my being. 

A quant, quiet town in the winter Seward is, with more closed signs than open ones. Seward’s straight streets and looming western-themed, saloon-style buildings are reminiscent of the gold rush days when towns like Seward first sprung up on nugget laden hopes of frontiers-men who had traveled from across the country (and world) to test their gold-finding luck and brave the wild and the cold. 

I’m sitting here watching the bay as an otter passes. Free and careless he twirls and turns while pawing at his soft brown face. His little eyes are beads of black placed strategically near his tiny nose making one think that even God after creating him had to step back and admire just how adorable the creature was. 

Resurrection Bay’s blue skies have started to fill with snow-bearing clouds and a low hanging mist. The snow highlighted mountains once splayed out majestically against a blue-bird sky and reflective in all their glory against the water, have now become more hazy and less visible. 

A storm is rolling in from the sea and snow begins to fall as a winter wind begins. It stings at my face and I snuggle a bit deeper in my snowy seat crunching the mixture of snow and smooth, black pebbles below me. I’m completely comfortable in my bundled layers. The littlest bit of my breath that escapes from my scarf covered face reveals a small appearing and disappearing cloud against the cold air. 

As the mist thickens the horizon line becomes impossible to distinguish, everything becomes shades of soft gray and muted sea-blue. But in its own way, the snow billowing, misty bay is just as beautiful. It’s softer, tranquil now. One is left to determine where she believes the sea ends and the mountains begin. Seagulls call out as the fly through the wind and increasingly snowy sky. A bald eagle swoops toward the water and disappears as he ascends into the thickening mist near the rocky and snowy cliffs of the encircling mountains. 

I imagine I can encapsulate the moment. Completely hold it in its vidid authenticity forever, somewhere safe within me. Somewhere in a still and spacious place of my soul. I imagine what I would be like if I became more like this moment, if I allow it to become a part of me. And as I close my eyes again, I’m the 6 year old girl running through the backyard howling and free as the wolf, I am the whale swimming and leaping with salty crashes as I reach for the sky then slap down against the sea. 

I lift my head and feel the snow melting as it hits my face. I am six years old. I am free and I am home.