Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: Healing Hands

I am surrendering to the craziness that is my life right now: a dog who decided eating a whole loaf of bread would be a good thing; winds blowing thoughts and trash all about; a child insistent upon play, um, NOW and other clutter unmentionable (all internal, of course, my house is immaculate I promise you - on Saturday I massaged Inspired Action serum over my face and waited to see what the muse would ask of me. It is a sad state of affairs when one's muses tells you to clean!) So I am sharing a piece I wrote over the weekend as an exercise for The Stories You Will Tell. The prompt was to write about a part of myself that I love. It's a great exercise - I encourage you to try it. Here is my raw, unedited piece. Call it "lisa, unpolished."

I have my mother's hands. For the longest time, that seemed to be the only part of her I could see in me. I have my father's eyes, nose, smile, and his teeth including the front bottom tooth that stubbornly defied 4 years of braces and drifted back to its original location. Now I see a bit of her nose in the bridge of mine and the infamous "Moore Family Bottom" pear shape which has ripened as I've aged. But I always knew my hand were exact replicas of hers.

Wrinkly knuckles. Veiny. Lined and decorated, a map of my past and my future. Smooth, dusty nails. She keeps hers filed to a soft point, just a little bit of white showing whereas I keep my nails blunt and short, a habit from when I played piano. Now my short nails are practical, easy to wash away paint and dirt, won't snag on yarn.

My husband once picked up my mother's hand and in amazement declared "It is like holding your daughter's!" After that, I became aware of the sensation of knowing myself by holding her hand. My fingers experiencing the feel of their own substructure. Bony and smooth. Delicate but solid. Like holding a bird; aware of the intricate latticework of tiny bones and sinews woven tightly together. Cool to the touch.

This is what I remember as a child: the reassuring touch of my mother's hands upon my skin. The chill of her palm upon my fevered forehead; her hands circling the surface of my stomach, as if to brush away the pain within; firm knuckles racking across my cheeks, smearing away salty tears.

And now a mother myself, I know her secret. What empowered her hands was touching and knowing the comfort of one's child beneath them. The heat of that flesh burning into my palms, brushing over skin sleek and silky as a seal"s. A perfect union of warm and cool, tough and tender. Balance known through touch if only temporarily.

Hands feeling their way to meaning. Placing my palms upon the window pane, I sense the weather outside. I thread my fingers through the thicket of my hair as if to grasp myself in this moment. I slide my hands over the fluff and fur of my dog, brushing the backs of my hands against the velvet soft of his muzzle. My fingers linger in the luxuriousness of his dense ruff, glide over the ovals of his paws, imagining the worlds he travels when I am away. My hands guide me through my day. Smooth river rock in my palm soothes me. Fingertips brush tree bark like reading Braille, the natural history of a place mine to decode. I rest my hands upon the earth and feel her breath. Spongy ground of Spring pulsating with life. The hard ground of Winter reminding me to travel inward for strength and nourishment.

The hands carry the energy of our hearts out into the world. My palms rest on the hollow between my daughter's shoulder blades, alert to the pulse of her heart, the movement of her breath, the flutter of her angel wings. Through touch, I feel love. With touch, I send my love back.

Hopefully, I will have a little lull tonight to pick up my crayons and scribble away. Yes, I am even behind on my 5 minute-a-day Sparkles course. But I am enjoying my clean floors.


  1. Oh my gosh, I so hear this, Lis. I was told at age 18 by a medical student I was dating, that I had "the hands of an 80 year old on steroids". Needless to say, that relationship didn't last long! But the truth is that though the rest of me looks younger than my real age - at 55, my hands tell the tale. I've had a nursing supervisor tell me she hired someone because she had hands like mine. In reverse, I've looked at mine and sighed, oh so many times, because they tell the truth. And the truth is, these hands have been everywhere and done more, and they look it...and at this point, I see them as a road map of where I've been and who I've touched and I wouldn't change them for the world (would I?). I couldn't have written it better. Thank you!

  2. Lis, I wept reading this. There is so much of my own mother in me I deny because of our relationship but as time goes by I see more and more of her in me and realize I must learn to love her before I can love myself. Your post has so much of "that" for me to accept. What a lovely, wonderful, compendium for your own daughter to read one day, so see your love, your timeless connection to each other. Oh how lucky you are to have found each other and how rich your personal explorations are. Yowza!

  3. such a beautiful revelation, a tribute to your mother and yourself, a celebration of your capabilities and possibilities. so often we wish for things we do not have instead of honoring that which we do.

  4. Lis, tomorrow I share offifically in class...all things will come together and make sense as wind things up ...but know this...this work reduced me to tears. Youused hands as a way to take me on a loving, generational adventure. You showed me the beauty our hands experience - what we take in...we come back to the beauty of our senses....we find history...and YOU, beautiful radiant, loving you, you make magic every single time you string words together. You writing has opened so wide...there isn't sou alive you can't touch in a beautiful way.

  5. Oh my goodness Lis, your words hold such honest love and such sheer beauty. I totally agree with Natasha, you do make magic every time you string words together. As always you inspire me, thank you for being you xxx

  6. Beautiful words telling the truth of you story. I loved sharing your journey through your days through your hands.

    I did not have the experience you did between yourself and your mother growing up and in a way I am experiencing it now through your words, that my friend is a gift.

  7. "I became aware of the sensation of knowing myself by holding her hand. My fingers experiencing the feel of their own substructure. Bony and smooth. Delicate but solid. Like holding a bird; aware of the intricate latticework of tiny bones and sinews woven tightly together. Cool to the touch"

    What a talented writer you are Lis, The images throughout this piece are powerful and evocative. The image of holding a bird coupled with the idea of self knowledge stunned me. Keep writing.

  8. "Through touch I feel love. With touch I send love back." What beautiful words that touched a place in my heart.

  9. Sweet and beautiful. "The hands carry the energy of our hearts out into the world." - so very true. You are an incredible writer, please keep sharing!

    Mandy xoxo