This is one of the few pictures of me and my sisters from our week away in Nantucket. When I first looked at it I didn't realize that my brother-in-law was lurking in the background and photo bombed my shot. But there he is. So this is a sisters with a brother-in-law pic. And is the best pic of the three of us from this trip.
The first attempt at a photo of the three sisters looked like this:
Selfies are not my skillset obviously. But still I do love this shot. It makes me laugh.
So does this one:
This is my younger sister and I seeing how I look with her hair. This is the kind of thing we do when we are together. This is why we laugh a lot. My older sister did not participate in this moment but I was able to catch her in another, equally funny moment.
Why, you may ask is my sister lying face down on the floor with her arms on a bunch of books? It is part of a menu of positions the my son is having her do to heal back pain. I actually have this same position in my group of positions, too. It is amazing how something so simple can work so well. You can learn more about it here.
I was thinking, when I started this piece today, that I would write about all the lovely parts of being sisters with my sisters. And then I went through the few photos I have and realized that short and sweet today is the way it should be. A few photos, because I did not take many. And a few words. And a lot of love. Because that is the best sister thing at all.
We are away as a family. It is a family tradition to go away. My dad is awesome about this, he takes us to places like Mexico and St. Thomas. Us means us, as in himself and my mom and the three of us sisters and our husbands and - until this current trip - all of our children. That is a lot of us's of us.
This time it is an adult us only trip even though half of our children are adults - perhaps more adult adults than some of us are quite often. This adult trip was an idea that came up around my parent's butcher block table in their kitchen last fall. We were talking about what should be our family trip and came up with the idea to have it just be us (see above).
Explaining where we are is an integral part of this writing because I am not writing this writing alone but instead with my sister -except I started without her - who I have written other writings with already. We've written about our dad, and about being happy together and about perspective. And today we are writing about adaptogens - but more specifically adapting to the current place that we are in, in our lives right now. Because when you start to need adaptogens you might also need adapta-jeans - a newly coined phrase for jeans that expand and mold to our ever changing bodily needs on any given day, (which are different than stretch jeans or maternity jeans.
An adaptogen is defined as "a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes." The operative words in this definition are the "bodily processes" because we started this writing because my sister went into the coffee shop and they were selling adaptogens and instead she bought a muffin. Actually this is not true, she bought a protein ball and a latte but she wanted the muffin because we're really talking about hot flashes.
Actually, we are not talking about hot flashes, we are talking about when our bodies change and how we navigate that in the best ways we know how. So while hot flashes are a part of this, it is more than this. It is our skin getting soft and thin and our hair changing color and texture. It is about the weight of our selves and the weight in our minds and our hearts when we look at ourselves and don't look like ourselves.
Looking outside ourselves for something to help us adapt to where we are at, while we are at where we are as we write this together, sounds so appealing. For example, taking adaptogens, or wearing adapt-jeans. But what we know - even when we don't want to know this because looking for a quicker fix is a lot easier than this other process - what we know is that looking within is really where the process starts.
Being aware of what we need means being aware of what we don't need. That sometimes we need to eat the muffin and sometimes we need to take the adaptogen. The problem is that we are so inundated with messaging from outside of ourselves telling us what to do to be ok inside of ourselves that we forget to look within and listen to what we know about our selves.
Looking within to recalibrate where we are. It is an examining of the flow of information through observation and is it the being able to distinguish the information we observe - to separate it into those things that truly sit with us and those things we can toss away. In other words, knowing what we need and knowing when we need nothing at all.
Now, about that muffin, we are going to go to this amazing donut shop at some point this week while we are here on this island.
This writing is about balance. But the word symmetry is what appeared when I started to write.
And so I searched for the definition of the word. Symmetry. Words like exact or correct appeared. Synonyms for symmetry (now that feels symmetrical ) are uniformity and consistency. I certainly can't tell the makers of definitions - who does this for a living anyway? - that they have not truly captured the meaning of this word. Still, for me, they have not captured the essence of this word. Because in all these definitions there is never any mention of the word balance.
However, if you ask google - god is google smart - whether symmetry means balance, you get a bit more information. You get symmetrical balance - the balance that is achieved when arranging elements on each side of a composition so that they are equally weighted.
I like this better.
Symmetry, to me, means balance (definition writers be damned). And these things that are in balance, they do not have to be the same or even similar, they just have to feel in harmony in that way where it sits just right. Where the pull is not more to one side than the other. Where the air flows freely around each part - whether it's a plant or a dress or a thought or a relationship or a dog and a cat.
We know when things are not in balance. We feel this with everything around us. When we fix that picture on the wall that is just that tiny bit lower on one corner - OCD be damned - or stand some books back up on a shelf because the way they fell over makes the whole room feel off kilter.
And we know when things are out of balance in the way we interact with others. When we have a conversation and the flow is one-sided, the interaction not even in the exchange of information. But more. When we walk away from our time with another, feeling spent rather that rejuvenated because the exchange of energy between us is not weighted, one side like the other.
And we know when there is a lack of symmetry within our selves. When we wake in the morning and things are just off. We can't always put our finger on what exactly it may be, but something does not line up, the yin yang, push and pull, ebb and flow of our inner being is warped. Our pieces are not in harmony. And we know we are out of balance.
It is easy to fix the photo on the wall or hem the dress that is too long. But when it is the exchange that we have with others and most certainly the relationship that we have with our selves, things get a bit trickier. And what is interesting is that we look to those relationships first, to try and rebalance the outward manifestations of our being - the relationships that we have with others - when really it is the balance we are searching for within our selves that puts us in harmony.
I think I have the balance within myself. Sometimes I do. When I am out with my dog and the morning is fresh and light and quiet and I see two deer run by effortlessly or the fog hangs low and my footsteps make that lovely crunching sound as I walk over the stone and dirt of the road that I live on. Then I am in balance.
Or when I am making a piece of jewelry or sewing a dress or shirt or painting something - most likely flowers - on a pair of sneakers or my dog's collar and I am thinking of nothing other than what I am focused on in that moment. Then I am in balance.
When I sit in the shower and the water flows warm I am in balance.
When I dance I am in balance. But only when I get out of my head and the movements come from that place of total expression and wonder and joy. Then I am in balance.
When I am in mother I am in balance. But not yet now that I am also in crone.
When I nourish my body with foods that flow with the Qi of my body I am in balance.
When I write I am in balance. And when I edit what other's write I am in balance, too.
I look at the commonality of this, of all these things that put me in harmony within myself. And this is what I see. When we can truly sit in that space of the exact moment where we are, the alignment of who we are is able to come through. And balance comes forth. In symmetry. Whatever it is that means.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Rower, Runner, Dog and Cat lover.