Start with Love

I do not have the whys or the answers to fix the whys. I only have opportunities. Opportunities to show up and show love.
— Brandi Woolf

It is in these moments that I come back to myself.

In these soft, quiet moments where the only sound I hear is her breath, my own breathing naturally deepens because of it. I claim this space as meditation. I sing mantra as lullaby because, why not now? There are times I catch myself reaching for my phone. For the ‘other’—whatever that may be. A distraction to keep me from witnessing. Blessedly, my hands are already occupied: one is holding her tiny feet (a creature comfort that soothes her to sleep), and the other hand gently lies in her fingers. Her soft grasp of my palm brings her the security of holding me close. Holding Home. So I surrender to right now and study her face. Her small mouth suckling my breast. Her eyelashes fluttering; only halfway resisting sleep.

Twenty minutes ago, I was force-feeding myself a late breakfast. I was making promises to my five-year-old that mommy would play as soon as… I was complaining to my husband about my lack of sleep and how there is never enough coffee.

I was rushing. I was pushing through. I was out of the moment and therefore not witnessing the moment. Mary Oliver says, “to pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” In another dose of similar wisdom she offers, “pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Noted. Laying here, with nowhere else to be and nothing else to do but be, I witness my morning as it was (and my relationship to it from my lack of presence) like an old movie reel running through my mind…

{Pay Attention}

My husband is at the counter working on his computer, working from home (as we are so fortunate he is able to do). He grabs me as I pass to wrap me in an embrace. I smile but am in reactionary mode and therefore do not offer him the true exchange he is seeking. I have passed on this opportunity to sink into my husband and let him comfort me and in turn, comfort him just by allowing myself to be loved. My five year old sits next to him coloring and singing an invented song—not as quietly as my stressed nerve endings would like, but still, sweetly to herself. She asks me for tea to help her belly feel better. I passed on this opportunity to really see her: Her creativity and willingness to entertain herself; her love of music and song; her intuitive ability to ask for what she needs.

{Be Astonished}

I am instead aware of my irritation at the crying baby at my feet. I start the tea mechanically, but am gladdened to see in this movie reel of my mind that though the action is mechanical there is intention that has also come organically and without effort. There is communion between my daughter and me as I hum a blessing while I pour steaming water over the herbs. I set it in the windowsill to allow the morning sun to penetrate the clear glass with warm rays, all while answering her questions as to why I’m doing this the way I’m doing it.

The movie reel stops, and compassion steps in. Well that’s not so bad, I think to myself. I was able to be there with her, responding lovingly. For that moment I was present and paying attention instead of reacting to the chaos I felt, even if the chaos was self-created.

Photo by  Sanna Hellberg

My littlest cries at me from below, tugging at the hem of my shirt and pleading to be held because she needs to be nurtured by me and only me. My husband tries to step in so that I can at least finish eating, but at this she cries harder. Only I can fill that space for her and this frustrates me because I am exhausted, mentally and physically. I am so very tired. I scoop her up, not so gently, mutter my promises to my middle child, sigh at my husband louder than I probably should have and make my way downstairs. I pass on the opportunity to be her source of comfort, willingly. A gift given me by grace. A gift I know (but do not always show) I am blessed to receive every day, in every moment.

Yes, I am tired. We are both tired. And she feeds off of my energy, the calm and the chaos. I can see this now in the stillness.

I do not have the whys or the answers to fix the whys. I only have opportunities. Opportunities to show up and show love. I pass on these too often. And now, in these still moments when the chaos and frustration of my morning seem to dissipate, when I breathe and focus and drop back down into me, I begin to settle into gratitude for my life and my precious family. I witness my reactions to the morning and put myself in check and am grateful that I can look with eyes anew. Perspective forms and I am humbled. I cannot say with certainty that tomorrow will be better, or even tonight. But I can say that I will try to bring myself back to this still, quiet moment where not much more than just simply being for each other is required.

I will try to remember that I am human and being human is sometimes hard. I will remember that compassion for others must begin with myself. I will remember to start with love. Just begin, with love. Love breeds compassion. And compassion breathes gratitude.

{Tell about it}


Brandi Woolf is the mother of three daughters and the wife of a magic man. She is a writer (oftentimes only in her head), a student and teacher of yoga, and a space holder for women. A creatrix of ceremony and sisterhood, she is devoted to the path of Priestess and lives to inspire and be inspired. She believes that courage and vulnerability are necessary and that the stories of women can heal the world. She wants to dance more, have more hope and less doubt, and is a devoted lover of the moon and chocolate cake. Discover more about Brandi and her offerings at