One room.

I am in the middle of vacating a home. This particular room, though now empty of things, contains multitudes:

My sister sleeping on a futon while my niece slobbers on the TV screen with her hands as she steadies her newly-walking self.

Emily and I crying while we watch "Wuthering Heights."

Painting the room cathedral gray.

Making it my very first studio, my me-only space to read and write.

Sitting staring out the window, watching Joel garden. Separate togetherness.

One drunken night when we newly discovered, and filmed me dancing to, an ABC song.

Slowing morphing it into a room for a baby.

The first time Joel put Bowie in her crib, 3 months after she was born, and ready to move out of the bassinet right next to our bed.

Nursing Bowie in the early morning hours, staring out at the dead-but-always-fruiting pear tree (oh
how I will miss that tree).

Sister back for a visit, sleeping on a mattress on the floor after a drunken Madonna concert.

Bowie moving out of this room into her big girl room - me reoccupying it eagerly.

Kelly, setting up shop in here even though it's way too small for a big working table. Just because we wanted to be in the same room, working. Separate togetherness.

The great book purge of 2015, when I decided that I was done with the men of antiquity dominating the shelves.

Standing outside the closed doorway for countless amounts of cumulative minutes, listening to Bowie cry. Should I go in? Should I stay out? Motherhood's eternal question.

KJK picking up my camera to snap a beautiful moment as I fed Bowie - me so grateful someone captured it.

House guests sleeping on a variety of makeshift bed combinations - Jackie and the kids sardined in,
in-laws during the first days of Bowie's life, my mom lots of times, friends and family always.

 And that afternoon light. Oh the afternoon light.

So many mantras scribbled on paper and posted as reminders. Many revelatory tarot pulls. Tons of the deepest yoga breaths.

Smudging for the eradication of cancer, for the clearing of toxicity, for the fragrant cleansing.

All in the smallest room of the house... a room of my very own.

Especially write.

How do you know your own thoughts? Do they come to you freely or do they fight for your time? Do you hear them when you are occupied elsewhere with dishes or watering plants, are you in conversation with yourself when you look at the sky or when you drive home? When you hear them, are you sure they are your own?

I spend a lot of time reflecting, which is important to me. But I also don't usually talk about those thoughts or write them out. I am in my head, often stuck there unless I can either do yoga, go to therapy, or write. Especially write.

These activities keep me from spinning out - or at least help me spin out with intention.

I was doing luminary sessions with the this ball of light (seriously, five sessions have shifted me in ways I never knew possible), but even a "therapy" session isn't exactly spending time with myself - with my voice alone. Writing has always been this for me. Not nature, not long walks, not staring at the ocean - those all help, but my thoughts run too fast and too free for me to hear them well. And that's fine. Not all thoughts are meant to be pinned down - and many will flee for fear of capture.

But when the thoughts that want to be unpacked come along, the best treatment I can give them is writing. However, like any writer, I absolutely abhor doing it. And yet I ache for it at the same time, the simplicity of purging on page, of making my mind slow to match the pace of my hand.

On Sunday, I opened my journal to write and realized how long it had been since I had written anything for myself. There are many good and valid reasons for that, but I also realized that when I am disconnected with writing, I'm also disconnected from the conduit to myself.

Things change so fast. This time last week, I was happily plodding along in the day-to-day, thinking about my upcoming trips to Mexico and Hawaii (both happening in April!).

Then Friday afternoon, we put in an offer on a house - our 6th offer. Our search for a house has spanned the last 1.5 years, and frankly - I'm detached from the whole thing. Later that evening, during our family viewing of "The Lego Movie," I looked down at my phone and saw that the house status was moved to pending. This has happened before, so I told Joel, "Oh, this went pending. Too bad."

But then our realtor called Joel. While still on the phone, Joel threw me an animated thumbs up that looked sarcastic. But then he got off the phone and told me the news; we'd won the bid. Surprised and a bit in shock, we resumed our movie. We spent the weekend in a little bubble of bliss - peacefully looking at Pinterest boards for new furniture and casually plotting out the house to see what could fit where, what projects needed doing, etc. I wasn't stressed, though I was still in disbelief. I think I still am.

But Monday hit hard. Calls to escrow companies, transferring monies...just a lot of little details coming at me. In the meantime, I have to think about packing and saying goodbye to this beautiful house - which will be a significant source of grief. Plus, our April plans haven't changed. We very well may be signing papers in Maui. Who are we and what have we done to ourselves?

When will we move? How will we tell our landlord? Will I take my raspberry bush? Are the old bookshelves coming with us? Should we sell the old bar tables? Will the couch fit in the new place? Where will the paintings go? When the heck am I supposed to pack? Will we still buy a new mattress? How will the cat adjust? Should we retire the bedroom set neither of us really like? What will the utility bill be at the new place? What will it be like to drive Bowie to school from there? Are we in over our heads?

To keep myself from choking on the excitement, anxiety, and to-do lists - I've decided to journal every day in April. Nothing fancy, nothing profound. Even if it's just lists and lists. I don't want to lose myself in this process and be so caught up that I can't enjoy it.

As I sat on my yoga mat this morning, like every morning, trying to invite my monkey brain to rest, I wondered - if I can slow down for just even 5-10 minutes per day to observe - will there be uncovered richness in these details? What could I learn about myself? What if I didn't try to slog through it through but instead gave myself permission to thrive amidst the chaos?

A mantra has been ringing in my ears since my coworker shared it with me last week,"Don't do more. Resist less."

There is no right way to be Candace in April of 2017. There is no planning myself out of this mess. It's time to be. It's time to resist less.

I have no idea what it looks like to stop resisting. None.
I'll let you know.

the time in between bath and bed, and the ROI of parenting

Bear with me here, I have like 20 minutes to write this (but it's a new practice in unfiltered writing).

Joel gives Bowie her baths, as part of our carefully constructed and always tenuous "share the work" agreement. In a not too uncommon, unplanned twist of events, I supervised the child bath. I usually distract myself by cleaning the sink, scrubbing my makeup brushes, or playing with how to create a cut crease on a hooded eye.

If I don't occupy myself with these things, I'll reach for my phone - which I do try to avoid. I hate the idea of a picture Bowie's forming in her head of her mother with a device always in front of her face, but it is what it is. I'm over judging myself for it...which is entirely different than giving up the fight. But that's a different blog.

Tonight, she caught my attention because, in the interim between the last bath I supervised and tonight's bath...a few weeks, a month maybe?...she could completely submerge her head in the water and hold her breath for five seconds.

It shocked me because, just this last summer, she would barely even put her face in the water, much less have the skill and agency to do it herself.

And in the 'in between' time of the evening (the time where Joel is reading Bowie stories and I am just finishing up the dishes, lighting the twilight candles, and pouring myself another glass) all my thoughts from the day come rushing at me. Today, one of those thoughts swimming in the sea of political murk and hope was the ROI of parenting.

For those of you lucky people who have never worked in a corporate setting, ROI means return on investment...the reward, the sign that all the rigor you put forward and risk you took in the beginning of your endeavor is starting to pay off, and your back to making money instead of shelling it out. (Disclaimer: this may be a reductive definition, I sure as hell am not spend my in between time opening up a tab and looking up ROI on Wikipedia...I do that shit all day long for real work).

The ROI of parenting...

Bowie's drawing after watching the Women's March on Washington.

It's odd how good I felt about Bowie dunking her head in the bath water, like the super smug kind of good. Yep, I am shelling out money and time for swim lessons because someone told me that responsible, healthy, enlightened parents teach their kids how to swim...and here I am seeing a total return on that.

She's making tangible, provable progress toward a goal of becoming another amphibious human.

It's working! I am winning at parenting. She won't drown!

It felt especially good because she drove me crazy today - we've hit the sassy phase, plus she's playing with all kinds of learned helplessness that triggers me. Today of all days, I was grasping for ways my parenting is "working." The swimming thing felt good. Was there more ways I was winning?

And then I stopped short at that cold question. Was I really looking for an ROI on something as unquantifiable as a relationship between mother and child?

Damn you, age of reason! (FIST)
And oh thank you, age of reason. (SIGH). But that's a different blog.

There is very little data or feedback in parenting. And in a society that...I'll let a friend explain it:

...ours is a society that honors and celebrates the mind {the masculine, intellect, drive, mental toughness, and so on}, but neglects and, often times, rejects the sweet balance that the heart provides {the feminine, empathy, compassion, strength through vulnerability, introspection, creativity, and so on}."

Yeah, in that kind of society - I have to remember to invite the feminine voice along too. To ask my heart what it thinks of my parenting, too...since it has such a different set of data points. 

Bowie's not going to give me proof because she's not an experiment. She's not here to teach me how to be a better parent or help me undo the damage done to me. That's my job. 

She's not here for any other purpose than to live out her soul's work. I hope to be one of the people clearing the runway for her to do it. 

Year in photos, 2016

Year in Photos 2016 by candace-morris

I usually publish this video slideshow of the year on New Year's Day. But this time, it took me a bit longer. I don't think that was an accident, either. I think the truth is that 2016 broke my heart in so many ways on so many levels, and I didn't want to go through the good stuff; I didn't want my mind to be changed; I just wanted 2016 to be the fuck over.

But every single time I create one of these slideshows, I relive every memory, every small moment that - when captured - seems insignificant. But set to music and bookmarked by many other small moments - each minute becomes so damn beautiful.

I'm so thankful to be alive. To have Joel and Bowie. To have a community of friends that I would die for. To have family who knows me. To have money for big and little things. To have freedom to shave my head if I want to.

So this is my peace offering to 2016. May she rest in peace.


The pure pleasure of just trying

I've just returned from my first ever hip-hop dance class. My body is so deliciously tired, used, and stronger somehow. I'm so drowsy, I can barely type. I don't remember the last time I've ever been so body tired ( I'm lying. LABOR!).

I've suffered a dance-less existence for too long. Every therapist I've ever seen has prescribed "dance more!" in just about every session.

The desire for a dark dance floor and loud (but just the right kind of) music quickens my heartbeat like it used to when I'd spot the guy(s) I had a crush on in college. It's that brand new, unbridled, unused joy bubble reserved for novel experiences that slam your awareness into NOW.

I felt that rush of excitement this morning while walking to do some work at a coffee shop and thinking about class tonight. As I strolled along the familiar street, I contemplated that rare quickening, the joy only accessible to me when I dance. Absolutely no other time in no other circumstance can I tap into this particular, specific kind of joy.

I think people assume that because I make a spectacle of myself on the dance floor, that I would not find this class uncomfortable or look awkward or that I would pick it up easily. Error.

As I stumbled though new movements (WTF hip hop! Why you have to stay so low? Man, my thighs!) and conditioning exercise (I did NOT just sign up to do planks, oh hell no) with my flabby arms and thick ankles, I decided to thank my body for movement. I hugged those puffy, strong ankles and smiled at them. Those ankles are as endearing to me as Joel's gray patch of hair behind his left ear or Bowie's ill-timed demands for hugs and kisses.

As I danced, I felt my body feeling foolish. I looked silly. I couldn't get the simplest of steps, despite my years of high school cheerleading and illustrious career as a dancing wedding entertainer.

Not too long ago, if I'd endured that kind of imperfection in a new experience, I would have cried myself all the way home. I would have felt my heart beat anger and disappointment through my veins. Worst of all, I would have quit. Just like that. Because if I didn't KILL it the first time, it would have meant I wasn't supposed to be a hip hop dancer and I wouldn't want to waste my one precious life pursuing something I wasn't good at.

Nah. It's time for a new way to be.

That's why I've embarked on a new campaign to rewire how I walk this earth. Phase one: Unteach the know-it-all inside of me that she has to be perfect. Taste and see that the real pleasure of life is buried in the trying and trying again. Feed my dance-shaped curiosity and know that once I master this silly hip hop walk we learned tonight (it's fucking fierce when my teacher does it, but I somehow end up looking like a creepy upright octopus), I will just want something else to master, another  thigh-burning sway o' the hips to get good at. And then, I'll look stupid once again.

And that's the point. Learn something new, look stupid, keep doing it, find joy, learn something new, look stupid, keep doing it, find joy.

Let's call it full on fool acceptance. Unlearning perfection and poise. Saying YES to the whimsical, unconcerned, costumed freak who wants to jump around like a lunatic asshole and laugh about it.

I don't have any guarantees of this, but I have a hunch that cultivating some crazy might just help me tap into a formidable source of power. An unbridled, scary with joy, thigh-strong monster of a woman that just might gobble you up on the dance floor.


Now I must go watch Beyonce dance and sit humble before my queen.