Motherhood & Words

I’ve been quiet these last weeks, partly because I’ve been busy and partly because I didn’t want to post that I was still sick, still slogging through my days with a head cold and a bad cough. So I just didn’t post anything at all.

But things are better. I got antibiotics and an inhaler, which have seemed to help. I went back to my fabulous PT to kick the low back pain, and—this is the big one—I started doing daily meditation. Seriously. I would have rolled my eyes at myself if I’d said that a decade ago. I would have said that running is my meditation. Running (when I’m healthy and can be outside snaking my way along the river road) is still meditative for me, but I’ve realized I need more than that. I had been feeling that there was so much chaos surrounding me, that I was drowning in white noise. And then my older sister told me about Headspace, and how the daily, guided mediation was changing how she moved through her day. “Just try it,” she said. “The first ten days are free.”

I have to pause here to say that this is not a sponsored post. I don’t do those. It’s just that when I love something, I like to spread that love around. (And speaking of spreading the love, you have to read Bonnie Rough’s hilarious essay in Brain, Child. I’m not spreading the love quite like that, but I do what I can.)

Anyway, now as soon as Donny and the girls head out the door in the morning, before I sit down to start work, to wade through email, I grab my phone, settle myself in a comfortable chair, and click my Headspace app. Then Andy appears with his lovely voice and leads me through ten minutes of meditation. And I feel myself come back into my body, sloughing off the stress that I usually wear around like a cloak. After 8 days of ten-minutes a day, I’m a believer. Am I more relaxed? Sleeping better? Somehow taller? Oddly, I think so.

I just signed up for a year subscription, and over the next weeks will increase my meditation to 20 minutes a day. Do any of you meditate? Or do you want to try it?  How has it changed you, your relationships? I want to hear about it.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Andrea on February 13, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I have tried to meditate…but monkey mind won’t quiet down. I’m like you–I think of swimming as my meditation, if I can get my brain to focus on my stroke and stay in my body and not gallop around through what happened yesterday and what’s coming up today and what I should write in that next paragraph that’s waiting in my essay and that I need a new swimming suit…and on and on. I also think of walks in the woods as meditative, but same same with the brain. If I sit quietly and write or draw, it can have a meditative effect, but it’s hard to make myself slow down, find (make, steal) the time, and do it. The more I chatter here like a monkey mind, the more I’m convincing myself that I need meditation. Maybe I’ll give headspace a try (and you should get a kickback for it!).

    • Kate on February 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Aha, that’s just it, Andrea. What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t work if we’re TRYING to quiet our minds. You have to check them out because it’s so much easier than any other time I’ve tried meditation. And his voice is dreamy.

  2. Sara on February 13, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I did a candlelight meditation-yoga class when I was pregnant with K. It was fabulous. I had a lot of big emotions coursing through me and had to learn to let those just move without thinking about or getting caught up in them. I haven’t done a whole lot of mediation since mainly because it is so hard to find even a few minutes of interrupted time. I have found that if I sit in the girls’ room and breathe slow and deep and occasionally repeat the mantra “sleepy time” instead of yelling go to sleep, it works much better for all of us. And recently, just this week, I’ve started my work day with some deep breathing and letting go. Your story reminds me of when I started doing yoga. During my first session, the teacher kept talking about how yoga could change your life. I rolled my eyes and thought it would be good for me, but change my life? All that week I felt a little taller and looser and then I started going to class regularly and it did change me. I think both meditation and yoga are practices, and even those days when you feel like you didn’t do anything right or your brain wouldn’t shut off help you.

    • Kate on February 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Yes! I think it helps so much to think of it as a practice, which is what they keep saying. It will get easier the more you practice. I’m so glad you’re still doing your yoga. That has never worked well for me (I always get hurt), but the meditation has been fabulous.

      I also love your sleepy time mantra. I have had the same experience. If the girls can fall asleep I lie next to them and completely relax my body and they drift off, sensing what? safety? calm? It’s amazing.

  3. Janine Kovac on February 13, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    ooh! will you play it for us during the retreat? sounds intriguing!

  4. Abby on February 13, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Kate, I downloaded the app the day you left a comment on my blog and I’ve been doing it ever since. Andy is my pretend boyfriend now. 🙂 I love his accent!

    I have just finished reporting and writing an article on meditation that’s taken me weeks. I have tried 3 different kinds, interviewed experts for hours, read dozens of articles and medical research. After all that, what I have to say is this: it’s WAY harder than it seems! Most of these people have been doing it for 20+ years and still don’t consider themselves master meditators. BUT they say it does get easier the more you do it. I am still in the frustration/why bother stage, but I’m sticking with at least for 10 min. a day. Anything that centers and soothes you is a plus in my book.

    • Kate on February 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      It’s fascinating, Abby. Please let me know when your article is published. I’d love to read it. And I’m so glad you are trying the Take 10 with Andy. I know you’re not alone thinking he’s your pretend boyfriend! But his accent! And his nonjudgmental ways. Love it!

  5. Sue LeBreton on February 13, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    I do it on and off, struggle to get into a rhythm with it, but as a yoga teacher I know how beneficial it is. Some days I do my Yin yoga and get a similar impact because I hold the poses for long periods of time and must confront not only my monkey mind but the tightness in my body. I love the idea of guided meditation and think when you find one that speaks to you, go with it. Happy you are feeling better.

    • Kate on February 13, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Ah yes, Sue. I know how yoga does that for you. It wish I could get past my issues with it. I’m going to try a restorative class at the Y soon. What did you say to me at MISA after your class? That I had to let go? Ha! Maybe I’ll get there with meditation!

  6. Sue LeBreton on February 13, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    A PS for those with kids. Relax Kids has great meditations to read aloud to kids- but at bedtime do not do the wiggle your fingers & toes, let them carry on to dreamland. Also great for transitions- and to help calm after a meltdown.

    • Kate on February 13, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      I totally want to try that with the girls. I actually think they would really benefit from Headspace, too. (And I think they have a kids’ version in the works, as well, which is really exciting.) Okay, I’ve clearly drunk the KoolAid.

  7. Marilyn Bousquin on February 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I LOVE this Kate, and what better name for meditation product than Headspace? That alone makes me want to say YES. And what better than to return to yourself before writing! I am a huge Natalie Goldberg fan and she incorporates “sitting” into her writing workshops. She has students either focus on their breathing or on sounds they hear. I like this a lot. It returns me to my body. And the writing always goes better when it’s attached to a human beating heart! Much love, dear. M

    • Kate on February 16, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Ah, yes, Marilyn. I need to turn to my writing after the meditation rather than diving into e-mails and logistics. I’m so glad you’re incorporating this into your practice!! xox

  8. Angie Mizzell on February 17, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I saw your comment on Abby’s blog, too, and now I’m really going to try this. I’ve only meditated in yoga class, so I think it would be helpful to have a guide.

    • Angie on February 17, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      I came back to report that I downloaded the app, started listening, and took a nap instead. 🙂

      • Kate on February 18, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        Ha! That’s what Donny did the first time, too! But that’s a good sign in a way–you were relaxed enough to fall asleep! And you needed it because you’ve been sick!

  9. Sarah on February 22, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Hi Kate, I try to do twenty-three minutes a day (the first three exercises) of a mindfulness CD for kids called Sitting Still Like a Frog. I ostensibly got it for Anna but I really like it, and at this point I use it a lot more than she does — though she liked it too. 🙂 If your library has it, you could try it out and see what you think.

    • Kate on March 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      I love that, Sarah! That’s what I feel like sometimes–but a very aware frog.

  10. Andria on March 3, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I have never been interested in meditation, but this “getting taller” side effect — well, that pricked my ears up.

    • Kate on March 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      Ha! Andria, I love that! You are perfect just the way you are!