"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Do-Nothing

Merry Christmas to you, world of internets! I am partway through my card addressing stack and am working on considering making something ambitious like gingerbread or some cut-out cookies....I have most of my shopping squared away and I actually got the oil changed. I feel productive. I feel sane. Its Christmas-time and I feel sane. Because I feel good, I'm going to do less.

Tomorrow I am going to take the day off from Christmas and I will paint.

Its my own personal, self-care holiday gift-day to myself. I will shower. I will go to yoga. I will drink lots of water. I will meditate. I will paint. There will be many paintings. And if the boys want to paint, they can paint too. Anyone can paint! There can be paint all over us....that's allowed. At sundown, there will be baths....and before that there may just be a lot of underwear. We are all washable and we all need to create and breathe and fill our buckets, just as much as we need to do our math homework and catch up with the washing and finish all the Christmas cards.

There may be take-out for dinner. Merry Christmas. I plan to be merry, very. This is part of my prep.


Monday, December 14, 2015

35 Years, Pain and Pleasure....No Regrets

Today I am 35. Life is grand and heartbreaking and strange and beautifully poignant. Life is also dull and dragging and overwhelming. At 35 I am feeling more alive and fresh than I thought I would but I am also more grounded, at peace with crazy things and addicted to learning than I have ever been.

I am living a totally charmed life in many ways but have had some things happen to me that I never thought would occur, things that scared the living daylights out of me. I almost lost my marriage in my 30's. I got arrested and subsequently had to go to court to fight for my fitness as a parent. I held one of my sons in my arms while his lips turned blue and saw him pull back from the edge of death. I have lived in big houses and small apartments and historic properties and left "home" over and over. I've lost grandparents and aunts, had friends break-up with me spectacularly and had a neighbor decided to wage a massive war of hatred over our hedge because she was certain that I was a thief. I have become an aunt, raised baby animals, become a painter, traveled internationally and learned that extended family is one of the sweetest and most humbling gifts I've been given.

 Family drive us crazy but they know us. They help us learn tolerance and can teach us by their irritating rub, to grow past the demons that trip up the clan in all the familiar ways. As a wise man once said, "If you think you are enlightened, go home for Thanksgiving." Family also know us utterly and can accept us despite our super irritatingly uninhibited flaws that flash as soon as we feel "home" and relax. There is nothing like the security of siblings and cousins who tussled and tumbled with you and know the lore and jokes of your tribe. I know its very trendy right now to cut people out of your life if they rub, irritate or hurt you....I think, especially with family, its wiser to learn how to interact. Boundaries within interactions are good, maturity is good and compassion is a must. I am shocked how much I have learned the truth of the fact that that which drives me most monkey-bonkers crazy about my relatives is somehow a shadow quality in myself. Its embarrassing but its there. Not running away but instead learning to be strong and to co-exist with irritation and pain and to take responsibility for our own path, to learn to have allegiance, and even cultivate a fondness for these flawed people with whom we have been tossed up on the shores of life....who love and are driven crazy by us too in the same tortured dance. This is family and intimacy and humility and the great mirror that is long-term relationship.

I am lucky to be me. I am learning so  much about myself and about A and about life. I am utterly grateful for the peace and beauty of my life. The world is gorgeous and I have lived in it so lusciously, I lived a pretty charmed childhood in a log house my dad built by hand, I have four gorgeous sons and have never had a miscarriage, I have had my own chickens and fruit trees and vegetable gardens as well as so many beautiful flowers in every home I've ever had, I have never been in a natural disaster of any serious scale and have never seen someone die of anything besides old age.  I am also so grateful for the things that have happened to me that were painful. People have left me and accused me and hated me. I have been hurt and scared and have felt like I'd made a botch of everything. I have had to do things the hard way and felt like everything was a mess and my life was out of control. I've been embarrassed and felt out of my depth and Its been so good. That's where the growing has been, the humility, the changes, the grit and the healing. I'm so glad that I've had my path.

I'm trying to live with courage and heart and full-engagement. I am so proud of myself for my learning, my resilience and for protecting my sense of fresh amazement at the world. I feel so lucky to be in my life and yet so specifically called to it....I know my life was meant for me, We are all here, where we should be and our paths are divinely laid out. This is my 35th year....a perfect mid-life stopping point for reflection.  I hope I always keep learning, always look up, and always am receptive to God leading me on because my wiggly, slippery story is the most perfectly messy-delicious and useful lesson I could ever have imagined.

“This is an important lesson to remember when you're having a bad day, a bad month, or a shitty year. Things will change: you won't feel this way forever. And anyway, sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can't feel real joy unless you've felt heartache. You can't have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail. You can't know what it's like to feel holy until you know what it's like to feel really fucking evil. And you can't be birthed again until you've died.” -Kelly Cutrone

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Lazy Way To Self Awareness

I am using a new little electronic device to keep myself calm. Its like zen in a teeny little charge-able geek machine.

I clip it on my bra when I get dressed and then it acts like a tiny Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder and tells me when I am not breathing enough, when I haven't moved for a while and when I have dipped into a significantly filling period of calm. I love it!

I asked for this for my birthday. I know that I can/could learn to watch myself using my own brain and not a little gadget. BUT until then....as I learn the steps....I have this little counselor made out of plastic, wires and LED lights.  I know that the Spire isn't actually alive in the traditional, scientific sense of the word but I sure feel boosted and partnered with, as though someone else is in this game with me. Maybe its God that I feel...or maybe its the energy in all things that is alive...even if they are just stuff. Maybe I feel myself and am somehow connecting and partnering with capability when I think I'm just using a tool to win at a game.

The great game. The game of becoming (as the author of the Velveteen Rabbit names it) and emerging and growing and bettering. Learning to see what is there (me, having a freaking tense episode because I sat down and tried to do Storytime with my 3 year old?!?!) and mold and work with the crazy truth and reality that we have in ourselves. I am the worst ever at some of this....I love to notice and to introspect but I have a LOT of scripts inside myself about what "should be" that I actually confuse with reality. This is partly the curse of the optimist I think, I know that wishing makes reality and that what we focus on becomes so I try to train my mind on good things....that's all very well. I also tell lies to myself and others about what is really happening because I'm embarrassed, I'm judgmental and I have a neat little script for "how it all should go."

That's getting kind of out there.

All I think I mean to be saying is that wearing this new device is really illuminating as well as comforting. I feel helped and capable when it tells me that I need to take a calm period and offers a guided meditation. I also, am shocked, confused and embarrassed by what calms, focuses and stresses me....and my own inability to ever have noticed my good and bad triggers before.

For Example:

  • Individual Time with each boy (a new parenting technique I am trying lately) is a stress trigger for me sometimes. 
  • Predictably, scolding children stresses me out....but spousal discussions, even about divisive issues can just rack up as periods of focused energy. 
  • Laundry is brain exercise for me....I focus then.
  • Art relaxes me and so does coffee....or sitting with a hot drink, I guess. 
  • I don't have a lot of stress in my life by volume....or calm....I'm quite low on relaxing, battery charging moments, but I swim in focused energy. I have all kinds of it. 
I am fascinated. I can't wait until I have a week of data....until I watch myself on trips, until I see what I am like in different seasons of the year, until I learn all the things and know how to do it.
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby." -Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

That Holiday Feel

I am working on thinking about the Christmas cards. I did buy the voucher thingie from Costco that you use to print your photo cards...I did take a photo that I think might work (after some editing) and I even bought stamps....the truth is though....I haven't even looked at my address list since last year when I didn't get my cards out. Ha!

Its a new year. We are flying for Christmas....first time ever. Time to try to get all the way back to Michigan where all the grandparents are waiting in expectant, glee. In order to pull this off I need to not only stock up on sleep (Hello, 3AM wake-up on Christmas Eve for our flight!) but I also need to mail all our gifts ahead of us since four little boys, one daddy and all our suitcases is all that one mama can possible wrangle in an airport. Of course, Santa will take care of his part which is a relief....isn't it nice to not have to manage someone!?! But most of the giving is on the head of the mama. I love giving gifts and I now have four weeks to plot it all out....okay, three. I need a week just to pack and prep for the travel. Three rows of days to make it happen. Whew....

Time for the making to start. Time for coupons and buying sprees and clever ideas about how to maximize our best ideas for all involved. Have ideas about how you are going to make Christmas a little more do-able and sane at your house this year? I am making bow-ties for the boys instead of new outfits, I bought my dress already and I try to give just three or four gifts per kid....although, A who is the fun-time man around the house always tries to edge me upward. I am determined to find a few "experience" gifts this year too. Stuff that isn't "stuff" and will satisfy a fun-time Daddy and a minimalist mama who wants peace for Christmas herself.