• becoming a father

    There's a head sticking out of my best friend. This is insane. Anybody who says this moment is the most precious wonderful thing in the world is delusional. This isn't a miracle, it's assault. I'd call 911 but we're already in a hospital. 

    So begins Elisha Cooper's Crawling: A Father's First Year (New York: Anchor Books, 2006). Until recently, there have been few memoirs of fatherhood. If you've been hungry to hear someone else's take on the entry into fatherhood, of the struggle to get it right and still to get it wrong, to make space for a new person in your heart and in your home, Cooper's is a voice worth listening to.

    Too many man enter fatherhood without undertanding how vulnerable parenthood may make them feel. And so, when they have scary thoughts, they may think that there's something wrong with them--that they're somehow not equipped for or entitled to fatherhood. 

    It's so important that we share these stories, so fathers can get comfortable with being uncomfortable. 


    worry about yourself

    While I'm not a huge fan of children's private moments being posted for the world to see, I do love this video of a little girl asserting her desire--and her ability--to do things for herself. And of her father making room for her to do just that. 


    convos with my 2 year old

    "Actual conversations with my 2 year old daughter, as re-enacted by me and another full-grown man."

    You may have seen this already--it gets at the existential weirdness of talking with young children--especially when you forget that they're people, and they're working hard to remind you. 

  • a poem for the spring equinox

    Just as there are poems beloved by people in certain places, so it seems that there are poems beloved by people in certain professions. Therapists and teachers love this one by Leonard Cohen, the chorus of the song Anthem, with its lovely dedication to wabi-sabi and the broken beauty of each of us:


    ring the bells that still can ring

    forget your perfect offering

    there is a crack in everything

    that's how the light gets in 

  • the museum of childhood

    The name of this place is so evocative for me. I think we must all have our own museum of childhood, where broken and beloved toys abide, in rooms full of shadows and beams of might. 

  • emotion words: vellichor

    I begin this exploration of words for emotions with an imaginary word: vellichor. 

    There are feelings for which we have no words, feelings for which we borrow words from other languages that offer up the right shape and texture in the mouth of what we know to be true inside of us--and now, increasingly, words invented for the purpose of defining more closely our emotions in specific settings. Vellichor is one such word. 

    vellichor: n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.

    A word of longing and regret, couched in a specific context, endlessly repeating.



    This beautiful video of a baby learning how to roll over is a wonderful example of what trusting organic development looks like--for our babies and for ourselves. 

  • attachment relationships and emotional life

    Attachment theory asserts that it is in the context of relationship that we find ourselves. Through relationship with another, we come to shape our own basic understandings about the world, the way it works, and our place in it. If our primary attachment figure is able to be available, to be sensitive to our needs, and to be empathic, then we begin to create and to internalize the belief that other people are dependable, and that we ourselves are worthy of attention. If, on the other hand, our primary attachment is unavailable, inconsistently available, insensitive, uncurious, or unempathic, then we begin to create and to internalize the belief that others are not dependable--that we can't rely on them to help us when we need help--and that that is true because we are not worthy of their attention, that there is something deeply wrong with us. 

    And in infancy, attachment behaviors--crying, calling, crawling towards--are triggered by fear. Attachment and emotion are bound together from the very beginning. When we feel frightened, or tired, or ill, we look to those to whom we are most attached. So this is the place where attachment theory opens into theories of emotion: are emotions universally experienced and expressed? Are there cultural differences around the experience and/or expression of emotion? What are emotions for? 

    In the coming months, I want to explore specific emotions, familiar and unfamiliar, and perhaps to explore these larger questions about emotions. 

  • a poem for the winter solstice

    Another poet and poem beloved in the Pacific Northwest: David Wagoner's Lost, from Collected Poems 1956-1976

    Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
    Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
    And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
    Must ask permission to know it and be known.
    The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
    I have made this place around you.
    If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
    No two trees are the same to Raven.
    No two branches are the same to Wren.
    If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
    You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
    Where you are. You must let it find you.