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I’ve got five kids, I’m a queer feminist, and I just might be the only life coach in the world who doesn’t believe in the Law of Attraction.

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An Epic Battle: the poet and the little red hen

Time Management

Imagine, if you will, a great cosmic battle.

Two mighty forces, swords drawn, facing each other down in an ampitheater made of stars.

(Technically, this showdown is in my head, inside my imagination, occurring in my consciousness, but since technically we’re all made of stardust, it still counts.)

The two foes face off.

Their faces are grim.

They have been circling each other for a long time.

Diplomacy has failed.

All that’s left is the clash of their swords, about to ring out at any moment.

On the left, a reluctant warrior. She wears the long sweeping gown of a poet or an Emily Bronte character. She is the one who stares out of the window for hours, lost in a dream or a ponder. Only the most extreme of circumstances could draw her from her reverie to fight.

On the right, a tattered figure, muscles bulging, hair whizzing out of the messy bun she’s wound it in. It is her fury that has brought us here, the great timepiece she wears in her chest ticking ominously, and ever faster. Tick, tick, tick…it echoes through all of us, spectators too.

The swords ring out! We gasp, collectively.

Then a white-haired woman steps forward and looks at them with deep, kind eyes. They freeze and stare back.

She says, What do you need, dearheart?

The very air shifts. The warriors sag. And then somehow the two foes are suddenly clasped in an embrace, swords still tangled together but lowered to the ground.

The two enemies have laid their heads on each other’s shoulder.

I need us to slow down, whispers the long dress.

I don’t know how to get it all done then, the other replies.


Do you ever have a great wild epiphany, so big it stirs your heart and flaps your sleeves, and you go to put it into words and discover–

it’s something you already knew?

something you may even have already written about?

and sounds impossibly trite when reduced to words?

This is what happened to me this week, when these two powerful aspects of me found themselves locked in combat.

One was there to desperately campaign for more space, more contemplation, more saturated presence. (More white space, too, if you read last week’s missive.)

But the other is the furious little red hen in the kitchen, frantically grinding the wheat and doing the dishes and ordering a new breadpan because someone broke her last one, and she hisses, Listen, I would love to have more precious white space too, that sounds absolutely lovely– here, do you want to bake the bread and tend the garden and feed the children and do all the laundry in the meantime? I am going as FAST as I can and I still can’t keep up.

This is the impossible dilemma I find myself in, again and again– the black-belt level speed and ingenuity required to surf my life rather than be washed away by it vs the part of me who longs to just wander through the twilight and run her fingers through a stream and perhaps read some poetry, not for long, just four or five hours a day, you know.

With five kids and work I adore and bills to pay and creative projects I want to do and a soul that is dreamy and slow, it sometimes feels impossible.

I cannot be staring out of the window for hours at a time. Not on a daily basis, for damn sure.

But, but, but.

I can’t always be rushing either. When I do, my soul bleeds out of my ears and I lose my will to live.

So how can I balance these two competing needs?

Because both of them are valid. Because they are mine.


The answer we came up with that day in the starry ampitheater of my soul was embarrassingly simple: small but dedicated pockets of unhurried time.

I need to schedule in designated minutes, maybe even hours, when the whole purpose is just to exist in those moments. To sit and have breakfast with the teenagers who have shown up. To read an extra chapter at bedtime because my babies have thrown their suddenly gangling limbs across me, and these sweet bedtime years will end soon. To go stick a couple new plants in my garden, even though they will probably die because I’m not a very good gardener yet, and even though I am surely behind on texts, emails, and every message format I’ve abandoned in despair.

(Side note. I used to think that these moments of saturated presence had to be solitude, but it turns out that that was only true in that season because I was starving for solitude. Now that I have more of it built into my life (quarterly solo retreats + solo time each evening after everyone goes to bed) I’m not so deficient in it. And what I’m yearning for now is the experience of being in a moment and being unhurried in it, both alone and with my people. It’s the quality of being unrushed, that timelessness, that I’m craving.)

So we drew up an agreement. Very formal, very official, signed in tears and blotted with flour. Unrushed moments shall henceforth be scheduled in as a priority, however small and rare.

Let me be transparent and tell you that these unrushed moments are indeed a rarity, the exception to the rule, in this season of my life. Like most working parents I know, my days are scheduled down to the minute. The ratio of saturated presence to that is paltry, like three parts to one million. But three parts is better than no parts. Much much better indeed.

And for all their scarcity, or perhaps even because of it, these moments of unhurried presence are precious. They are rich. They sustain me, in quality if not in quantity.

And I know, deep down in my bones, that it is not only I who need these moments– my children need them too. I wish I knew how to give them more.

I don’t. This is where we’re at right now. It’s the timekeeper’s turn to run the show right now, the one with an enormous watch instead of breasts. We need her. She has been given an impossible tetris puzzle to solve, and she’s just doing her damn best to solve it. She’s not trying to starve the dreamy aspect of me; she’s just working flat out to manage the ever-changing and ever-competing needs of seven people and their schedules and their relationships and their hearts and bellies and laundry.

I’m grateful to her. She is a force to be reckoned with. I mean, younger me couldn’t even fathom the shit this woman gets done.

But she is also grateful for the moments of unhurried time, even if she can only fit them in between 8:27 and 9:04 on a Tuesday. She’ll take it. She spies another opportunity Friday at 2:15.

So they tag in, tag out.

Someday, I know the rhythm will shift. It will be quiet in my house and I will have swathes of unhurried time and I will be lonely and bored and want to stir up some action. But that day is not today. It’s a decade away, actually.

Today, all I can manage is five minutes of leisurely chitchat with my friends on the playground after jujitsu pickup. And I can only take those minutes because I already thawed and marinated the chicken and started the rice and made the salad. But I will take those minutes. I’ll savor them. I’ll feel the sun on my face and hear the creaking of the playground metal contraptions. I’ll soak up the company of these women who are in the thick of it, like I am.

Then I’ll bundle everyone into the car and drive home, fly around to get dinner on the table, make tomorrow’s lunches, throw some dishes in the dishwasher, answer some texts, and sit down at dinner frazzled and disheveled. My hair will be practically levitating.

So then I’ll make everyone take three deep breaths with me, innnnn and out, innnnhale, eexxxxhale, because Mommy needs them.

They will almost certainly roll their eyes.

Nonetheless, then we’ll hold hands and chant, one, two, three, hurray! like we do every night before dinner. That might be all we get before someone starts saying that they hate this food or squabbling with a sibling, and that will be okay.

Sometimes, saturated presence only lasts ten seconds. Sometimes ten seconds is all it takes. Sometimes ten seconds is a sacred ritual, the sacrament for this moment and season, and during those ten seconds, no one is fighting inside me at all.


Just 7 minutes, because you're absurdly busy. 7 minutes to clear your mind and refresh your spirit. 7 minutes to thank your fierce tender holy sacred tired body. 7 minutes that'll leave you centered, grounded, & clear-- like the epic fucking badass you are.

a free grounding meditation

take 7 minutes for your heart

& come home to yourself

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I write things for women with big, gorgeous, COMPLICATED lives. I help women become epic fucking badasses… but I still retain my right to cry at every diaper commercial ever made.

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Sustenance for the journey -- notes from a fellow
traveler to remind you of your own magic.