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showing up

2013 November 20
by Rachel Turiel

Rose is delivering school lessons to Polar and Tabby. Right now it’s Spanish, which sounds more like a mash-up of the first five languages you hear on any random street corner in San Francisco. No matter, Tabby and Polar are rapt students. Now—sleeting outside—Rose is in pink sundress, working at her store, The Chocolate Carrot, where you can put a 2 cent massage on a credit card that she keeps on file for you.


I am at my desk the kitchen table writing a script on American food waste for NPR (yes, I’m name dropping. Also, in typical NPR cheeriness, “food waste” is coming out just before Thanksgiving. Rejoice!). Col is at Mathew’s, where Mathew’s mother Melanie is craftily crossbreeding remote control helicopters with bar graphs so the boys get a little education with their fun. A pot of deer and beef bones simmer on the stove, secret nutrients peeling off in layers.


Rose is staying home with me on Thursdays. This is our current compromise to her current request to never leave my side (her school is Tues/Thurs; she now goes just Tuesdays). On Thursdays, I work from home, and she is free to engineer her own day. This also means she’s free to wipe her nose on her skirt ten times with no comment from me, and I am free to get my work done without feeling guilty that I’m ignoring her. It’s a strange compromise, I mean how about you forego kid-friendly school activities all day to stay home and play alone? And I can hear the accusing voice of the spokesperson of “We Are American and We Value Independence!” in my head: how is she going to develop strength and resilience at home by your side?


Life is surprising. I really value clarity and direction, like if I could just figure out The Right Approach with my health and with Rose’s anxieties, we’d be sprinting across our own personal finish lines, leaving discomfort back at some forgotten mile marker. But this hasn’t happened. There is much discomfort. My hope for myself these last 2 1/2 months on this healing diet was that I would reach ground zero, symptomatically speaking, then unveil my superhero cape and announce how I triumphed over mainstream medicine and its bogus “cure the symptoms, ignore the cause” approach. Yet, I keep folding up the cape for another day. These days my intention is more about showing up. And then, showing up again. And again. As Anne Lamott says in Some Assembly Required, “I had two slogans to guide me. One was: “Figure it out” is not a good slogan.


I feel a little self-consciously Oprah-like saying this, but the act of showing up is allowing me to see (with my tiny flashlight in the forest) the blessings of all this discomfort (mine and Rose’s).

1. Learning to be with discomfort. Discomfort can be physical or mental. Allowing it in without judgement deepens your capacity for all emotions. Brene Brown says “You cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff: vulnerability, grief, shame, fear, disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. When we numb those emotions, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.”

2. Self care is a necessity. If there’s a choice between taking a small hike or fitting in a little extra work, the choice for my well being is clear; I am lacing up my boots. I don’t have the luxury of ignoring stress; it shows up in my body. It has been more nourishing to nurture my body and mind than to push it to produce.

3. Who’s to say what’s right? For example, Rose is typically a person who’s looking for the next party, the next stimuli, treat, excitement, playdate. And on these Thursdays, she entertains herself brilliantly for five hours. She works in her store, teaches her stuffed animals, makes alphabet sheets and writes and illustrates books. She dresses up, dances and sings. She gets to know herself. Who’s to say this isn’t the exact education she needs right now?

4. Love is better than chocolate. It’s also bigger and more sustaining than recognition, praise or achievement. Last weekend we played monopoly while eating snack-a-dinner. It was loud, chaotic and maybe there was a little cheating. At one point Rose bungeed her legs together and hopped around the house when it wasn’t her turn, and Dan was trying to listen to the football game while I was playing my Pandora melancholy mix, and Col was hoarding money and I felt this strange expansive comfort of belonging, of being loved as the greatest gift.




So, basically, I don’t know what I’m doing. One foot in front of the other. Shining this very small flashlight through the very deep woods. Showing up.



21 Responses leave one →
  1. November 22, 2013

    Not much in particular to comment on, other than that I do love showing up here and I’m happy that you continue to do so. This is midlife, isn’t it?

  2. Daniel Jokelson permalink
    November 22, 2013

    Lovely. Thank you so much for sharing that with us this morning.

  3. November 22, 2013

    Beautiful. I loved the image of you wanting to unfurl that cape–so hopeful and hard. And the idea of living with discomfort…if there is light, there must be shadows. And finally, I am so glad Rose is doing what she’s doing on Thursdays. It sounds like you Have figured out what is right. For now.

  4. Milla permalink
    November 22, 2013

    This post is rad. I’m so happy to read about your mother-daughter time together/apart, because that was lot of how I was raised, with a harried single mom and a lot of independence. My mom was always there when I needed her, yet able to do what she needed to because she did teach me to be independent. I was told to play quietly, ask for things I needed when I needed them and to basically “work” with her, make it work for me. A child can be independent with their parent around in my opinion. Sometimes better because independence is jumping and falling, while all the while knowing that you’ve got a safety net.

    I’m sorry to hear that your symptoms have not lessened, yet happy for you that you’re in a place with them where you’re able to explore what it means to have them, be comfortably discomfortable. You’re rather brave in my opinion.

    Thanks for sharing your day.

  5. November 22, 2013

    So beautiful and authentic and raw, Rachel. I have been there. God, I am still there some days. As for Rose, she is such an amazing child. Showing you what she needs and shining at your side. She is lucky to have a mom that trusts that this is just what she needs right now, to keep shining, to keep being that amazing little person that loves to be with others, on her own terms. There are seasons in life, season from expansion and seasons for contraction. Just like in nature. Much love to you xxx

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      November 24, 2013

      exactly the words that have been roaming round my head: seasons, expansion, contraction.

  6. Rebecca permalink
    November 22, 2013

    I think you are spot on. After a good bit of self work with mindfulness, I have a new motto for myself and my family: we can be okay with not being okay. I stopped offering my children solutions to make them “feel better” when they are upset and hope that they will eventually understand that they will not feel bad forever and we can work through (and with?) negative emotions. I don’t know what I am doing, either, but it feels a lot better than my previous, uncompassionate “you are fine, stop crying” mantra. thank you so much for continuing to share your insights. I love them!

  7. Meg permalink
    November 22, 2013

    You are such a true writer. Thanks for this.

  8. Ellie permalink
    November 22, 2013

    I am sorry you keep having to fold your cape, Rachel. However, I am awed by Rose’s self-understanding and your willingness to respond to her cues; I teach, and I am not convinced that kids need to be in school in order to develop “resilience”; what does worry me, though, is that too many kids do not know how to spend time with themselves and, basically, do not seem to know themselves. You are giving Rose a tremendous gift, and she is so lucky to have you as her momma.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      November 24, 2013

      word. I didn’t know how to be by myself until I was in my early 20’s.

  9. Andrea permalink
    November 23, 2013

    seems to me like you have it all figured out.

    and yes, one hundred percent, to rose staying home.

  10. November 23, 2013

    you are my hero, cape or no cape, even when life doesn’t look like what yer hoping it would look like. and, my oh my, girl – are you ever loved. xoxo

  11. November 23, 2013

    Thank you for your flashlight.

  12. Alanya permalink
    November 23, 2013

    I’m going to be quoting from this post!

  13. Emmanuelle permalink
    November 23, 2013

    Indeed Rachel, I think the thread that weaves through all of this is (as always): Love.

    Love is always there one way or another, both deep inside and all around, and this permanence is what allows us to “be with” our discomfort, vulnerability, doubts, grief, loneliness and pain.

    It is right there in your compromise with Rose, who is allowed to find who she is on her own, because she is loved not matter what, and in such a way that creates the space within her life and self for growing whole new branches – which implies reaching her roots deeper in this loving ground. Closer to home…

    It reminds me of Col getting into his Davy Crockett/board rider skills development… Except it looks like Rose is exploring a side of herself that she might well have inherited directly from you :o) – And I totally agree with Milla !

    This diet/quest you are on should also allow you to become more independent, more yourself, and stronger, even if the “bad guys” tend to ramshackle a place when they are firmly invited to leave! But hey, it’s worth it :o) and We Can Do Hard Things, as Glennon says.

    Vive l’amour et la liberté :o)


  14. November 24, 2013

    Every time I visit this blog I leave feeling richer. Thank you so much for sharing.

  15. Rachel Turiel permalink
    November 24, 2013

    Goodness. You guys definitely count as part of my healing team these days.
    Heaps of gratitude for all your supportive words.


  16. Danielle permalink
    November 24, 2013

    That water looks very warm and inviting. How do you get there from Durango? My family and I are moving there at the beginning of December, and I can’t wait to find some good hot springs.

  17. Lauren permalink
    November 25, 2013

    I think Rose is onto something…she is wise….and I think we could all use a designated block of time where we are alone and enjoying our own company.

  18. November 26, 2013

    Yep, showing up. As I finally have here, and feeling extremely grateful that I did because this post resonates with me. Things are getting both harder and easier in some ways and seeing all the blessings of the discomfort you mentioned here reminds me of my own. Thank you, Rachel. You always have the right words…

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