I Carry it in My Heart.

Via Jeannine Ouellette
on Aug 25, 2013
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jeannine o.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart


i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)


~ e.e. cummings

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Draw the air into your lungs, fill them up, let the breath expand all the way down through you, all the way up to the crown of your head. Fill yourself until you cannot take another sip. Exhale, push all the air from you lungs, every last drop of air, until you are emptier than you have ever been.


Is it yoga, or is it birth? Is it both?

Did you know that yoga alters the most basic expression of who you are? Newly published research from Norway suggests that a comprehensive yoga program rapidly produces internal changes on a genetic level.

“These data suggest that previously reported (therapeutic) effects of yoga practices have an integral physiological component at the molecular level, which is initiated immediately during practice,” writes Fahri Saatcioglu of the University of Oslo. Saatcioglu’s study is published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

This does not surprise me, this yogic rebirthing. How many times can a person be reborn?

August is my personal season of birth; the signs are all around me. Mashed up crabapples on the sidewalk, the particular blue of the sky, this exact wind, the pelting and crunching of acorns, and most tender of all, the tentative concert of our neighbor’s newly planted grove of baby aspens, standing all proud and eager to please, their trunks and limbs so scrawny yet their voices oh so big on the wind.

Babies. I carry them in my heart.

I gave birth to all three of my little lions in the heat of August—which I suppose tells you something about what I like to do in November.

Those three August-born babies are bigger than they used to be. Sophie, the amazing girl who made a mother out of me, just turned 23, a year older than I was when she was born.

This fact seems to us just as implausible and difficult to reconcile as a Rubik’s cube or Algebra II. Some things are simply true whether or not they can be understood. Sophie’s little brother, Max, is 21, now taller than us both. And their baby sister, Lillie, turned 18 two weeks ago.

The youngest turned 18. No more babies for me. This hurts, it does.

(I carry their hearts in my heart.)

That my children are officially grown up is not easy to wrap my mind around, let alone my pen. It’s going to take a while, I think. Half my life has been soaked in pregnancy and babyness. I was born again through natural birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, vegetarianism, homeschooling.

Stripped bare and reborn all over when divorce tore my skin off. Then came Waldorf teaching, new love, remarriage, blended family, born, born, born some more, family dinners, homework projects, Sunday brunches, road trips, years rolling along outside the window.

Humbled to the bone and born all over when teenagers took over.

How many times can a person get born? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Is a Tootsie Pop a sucker or a Tootsie Roll?

I remember the August Sophie was born. Heavy, swollen. Excited. Scared. Crushed crabapples on the sidewalk, acorns pelting. The smell of oats from the General Mills factory across the street. Perfect baby girl, my chin, my eyes. Features like a doll.

Prettiest baby in the world, baby in my arms.

I am me, not me. Mother version of me. Still swollen in the belly, and now in the breasts, milk running, sticky and clear, sweet magic. Sore. Unsure but unwavering. Hiking a thousand miles through dense warm fog.

I had no idea where I was going but was hell bent on finding the way.

A week after the birth, my young husband—we were so in love then—brought me the perfect gift. He left it sitting on my scratched dresser top; I found it in the afternoon, when the smell of the oats was strongest on the warm August breeze.

A 12-pack of Diet Coke and a box of Marlboro Lights. Vices I’d given up during pregnancy. Vices I didn’t intend to resume with a babe in arms… and yet. And yet, to know that she of the vices was still me—it filled me with relief to be reminded that I was still … me, whoever that turned out to be.

As it happened, cigarettes and diet soda fell out of my life sooner than later. Who I was then, I’m not anymore. I have been reborn so many times since she was me, made newer and older by motherhood, made more beautiful by being loved as I’ve never known love before. Made more like love itself by living love.

This, all of this, is motherhood. This is yoga. Love. Life. August.

I carry it in my heart.



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Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Jeannine Ouellette

Jeannine Ouellette is a writer, teacher and facilitator of Elephant Rock Retreats for Writing & Yoga. She loves coffee, autumn, Lake Superior and all of you (not necessarily in that order). She's also a senior editor and writing teacher at the University of Minnesota. Read her blog, on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter for more musings on this “one wild and precious life.” (Oh, and she loves poet Mary Oliver.)


14 Responses to “I Carry it in My Heart.”

  1. Tony says:

    Beautiful piece of writing.

  2. Carolina Mujica says:

    Beautiful! I could not relay more with you, your life, your experience, your August….tears dropped out of my eyes when I read this._ I became a mother at the age of 20, being a young Venezuelan immigrant…. it was tough._ A year and a half after having my first son, I lost my second pregnancy of almost 6 months. After that, it seam impossible to conceive another baby, but I was blessed with my daughter after 9 months of bead rest, and a high risk pregnancy._Two years later, she was diagnosed Autistic._With the support of my husband, our families, and finding help and support from different organizations supporting a biomedical protocol, she recovered from it, and thankfully she is a normal child…_I have being blessed…_two years ago, I decided to do something for myself, and I started to practice yoga. I found, everything that I was missing in my life, on my mat, on my practice._I decided to become a yoga teacher, and I currently practice and teach Ashtanga. _I understand you, when you say, how many times can you be born?_I know! I was born this morning again._Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and your experience with other.

  3. Jeannine says:

    Thank you, Tony, very much!

  4. Jeannine says:

    Dear Carolina, thank you for your feedback and for sharing your amazing story! I too am reborn on my mat every single time; I could not be more grateful. Thank you again, and blessings!

  5. Jeanne says:

    My August baby just turned 36 .. *sigh* … It all goes so fast, but the beautiful essence lingers. Loved your article! How it resonates … <3

  6. Beautiful. A life in a nutshell, or acorn shell. Thanks for the pulsing loving life breathing through your writing.

  7. Jeannine says:

    Jeanne, congratulations on your August baby turning 36! Blessings to you, and thank you!

  8. Jeannine says:


    Thank you so much!

  9. Acacia says:

    Thank you for your beautiful words, experiences shared. I thought of my mother reading this because her babies are grown, too. I think of the thousands of times she has been reborn through joy, anguish, love, ache. I think of the thousands of times I have been reborn on the mat, in love, in the hospital giving birth to my first, in the water at my parents home giving birrt to my second, moving 350 miles away from my home of 31 years. It certainly is rebirth to shed all the days or nights energy through yoga practice. The way the energy moves about, through and beyond me. I can feel it with a sureness.

    And thank you for the poem. It happens to be my favorite.

  10. This was so beautiful it brought me to tears…

  11. Acacia: Oh, all good blessings to you, your mother, and your babes, small and grown. Thank you for writing! And the poem … yes! I love it so much, too.

    Melissa: thank you. Your words mean so much!

  12. yogawithlorilucas says:

    Love this so much! Thank you!
    You might want to re-check her website link though.

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Yikes! Thanks for that. ~ ed.

  14. To yogawithlorilucas and to Bryonie for alerting me to my website being hacked, THANK YOU! Fixed now. Again, thanks so much for bringing this to my attention! Yikes!