Showing posts with label Release- New Years Revolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Release- New Years Revolution. Show all posts

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Spoon Club Affirmations

Whoa baby. The holidays are here. Even those who don't believe in religion or celebrate the traditions can't seem to escape the stress and the pressure and the chaos of the next six weeks. The upcoming events affect all of us in a negative way- traffic patterns are disrupted, shopping for everyday items are complicated, the weather here in the Midwest can also get treacherous, and people seem to be more bah humbug than joy to the world.

If you do partake in the holiday events and traditions? Oh my. That's just asking for it.

Asking for what?

Well, that depends on you. No. Really.

I'm not saying this because I am one of those chipper elves that dons the jingle bells and wears ugly sweaters all year long. I am. That's beside the point. The holidays have always been a horrible time for me. I love giving gifts. I love decorating. I love and I mean LOVE the food traditions. I love Santa and elves and snow and everything Christmas.

Except I don't. 

I hate how people get so stressed out. I hate how the food makes people sad instead of full. I hate how giving gifts means the next year is spent trying to catch up on the credit card bill. I hate how choosing whose house to go to is like the Mason Dixon Line of family feuds. I hate the mall. I hate the traffic. I hate the holiday station that I want to love but they play the same 8 Christmas songs over and over again and two of them are the same song just different versions/eras and I have at least 200 good ones on my iPod I left at home to choose from. I hate the look of disappointment when I give a handmade gift. I hate the look even more when it is something my child has made special. I hate that everyone is super ramped up and they all take it out on strangers, especially on the Internet.

So, friends, I am going to get on here everyday and write out a special message. Any of you who are right here with me on this holiday edge can play along. Anyone who isn't? Find someone who is and give them a pie or a hug or a pie hug, ok? Let's do our best to bring peace into each others lives, shine a light to those who are battling the darkness and the dragons, and make folks who have no family or no family who wants them feel loved, and then let's keep this generosity going long after the holidays. It isn't just a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving gesture- this needs to be for real and for always. Let;s just start with today though. Who's with me? I am going to call it the Holiday Chaos Spoon Club (and I'll share with you why tomorrow....)

Today I will remember that no matter how I live my life, friends and family and strangers will think I am weird. I will live my life for me instead. I will dye my hair purple and live in an RV if that brings me happiness. I will shave my head and hula hoop on the beach if that brings me happiness. I will blog like no one is reading. I will do what I love. 

I will remember this as I attend family and social events where the things I love are criticised. I will love myself and my life anyway.

It isn't a perfect start, but it what was in my head after I spoke with my friend Ashley this afternoon. I remember thinking these same things as I was making the decision to go to college to study poetry, then when I decided to get married, when I decided to have children, buy an old run down house, and then move to a farm. Every decision I made was ridiculed, critiqued, and I was made to feel incapable. Clearly, I am capable. What if I had listened.

Oh. I have listened actually. I stopped blogging after months of a friend making snide remarks about it. I gave that piece of myself away and I can't get it back. I allowed it to be stolen from my children, a record of their lives. How stupid is that? Why did I care so much what other people thought? So what if my pictures are messy, if my content is varied and unfocused, and you know who cares about my thoughts? Me! So again, I blog like no one is reading and that means it is messy and varied and pictures of food and crayons and piles of laundry and pigs and piles of crayons and more pigs and sometimes sheep too. I make mistakes. I love pie.

I wanted to perform street poetry in San Francisco. I didn't go. I was scared and let the critics feed those fears. I wanted to travel but listened to my friends tell me that it would be hard to do with Lily when she was two, even though our first two trips were wonderful, I had this nagging sense that they were right. I just worry about you. Those were the subtle underminings that were all it took. I let it. I let it crash my self esteem. Why?

I. Me. I let it. I can't even say never again. Why? Because I am human.

So, hold you head high and your spoons higher. Let's have some pie!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Passive Agressive Proximity

This is a funny story: Last week I was in the front yard with Lil'Bug and our neighbor pulls in her driveway....

She says, "I just wanted to let you know, I'm having people over at 3."

Silence. Blank stare on my part. I could not figure out what she was getting at? I don't care if she has company over. Did she think I am too hideously pregnant and/or slovenly to be seen in the front yard? I mean, I've gained weight and I had jelly stains on my shirt from lunch, but I still think I am fairly presentable most days, that day included. OR maybe she was trying to invite us? Ug. Wait, maybe she's just excited to share the news of her gathering?

"There will be a church bus."

Ok, I am married and pregnant and still cannot figure out why I should care if a church bus is coming to her house. So I say, "How nice for you."

Dearest emerges from the back yard and she repeats her vague statements. HE GETS IT (though how, I have no idea, telepathy?). His truck is parked on the street. She wants it moved. Off the public street. We are the only family without off street parking so of course we park on the street, but she thinks we should only park in front of our own house. That's fine, but wouldn't it be easier to say, "Hey, would you mind moving your truck so my guests don't have to walk as far?" Instead we have to guess at what she wants: very, and ineffectively, passive aggressive.

Oh, and I heard from OTHER neighbors that she is really upset about us parking "near" her house. She can't understand why we are doing it and she's been complaining loudly to all who will listen. Not us, of course. That would be too effective......gah. Also, we have lived here almost 10 years and have always parked in the same places. Did I mention there is free parking on the public street and we don't have off street parking? Gah.

That bugs me.

This is the same lady who complained that my little girl and her friend were laughing and squealing too loud in our backyard in the middle of the day. I mean, we live in a very urban neighborhood where cars thump bass at all hours, sirens accentuate the birds chirping, train whistles blow, street people yell at each other, people honk instead of using door bells, etc.....all that and she has a problem with little girls playing enthusiastically outside in the afternoon?

Years ago I'd have plenty more to say to her. Now I think it is amusing and also a little bit sad. I am not going to ask my child to contain her glee though and we will continue to park our cars on the street (where else? Ooooh, maybe in our yard, on blocks! *evil grin*).

But still, the point of this reflection is that I really am too easily bugged by things. I think in the last year that I have really relaxed quite a bit and let go, but I have many roads to walk on before I really learn. It's not just that things bug me, but that I lay awake at night letting the anxiety attack me. It's just not good.

However, I am finding words to effectively communicate what bugs me and fix it.

Thursday, 15 May 2008


You know those Hallmark commercials that can move certain people at certain times to tearful sobbing masses (ice cream in hand.....)?

I had a real life moment. Actually a series of them over the past week.

It started with a freak out from me over the Cardiologist appointment and not being ready for the new baby, then.......

My Dearest has been his sweet and wonderful self, but more so because he took extra time off work to help out around the house with stupid chores he hates, take us to various medical appointments and then ice cream, and bring me anything I want anytime with no complaint. No, not fried pickles with chocolate, but still. He's made an extra effort to reassure me and ask what I need to feel better/more ready.

Friends. You know, I think I am just about over the whole, "former friend really sucked and now I'm lonely forever, waaaaaaa," thing. This past week friends both local and online have really been awesome. Phone calls, emails, and comments all at the right time saying the right things. Seriously, I really needed all the love.

This morning a friend emailed and offered to drive us to the park day (the one I was afraid we'd miss because I can't drive); it occurred to her that we can't drive right now, so she offered! It was amazingly sweet and perfectly timed. This park day is special too, it's an annual dress up in the park and play in the flowers day.

And my sweet daughters. Lil'Bug has been singing and talking to June Bug. Today she told her, as her big sister so she should listen up, it is time to come out. Sweetie, I wish it was that simple.

Friday, 9 May 2008


I just finished ALL the laundry. Washed, dried, and put away. It had been looming as a giant pile of clean clothes in baskets on my bed for a week now, with an ever growing pile of dirty in the laundry room. No more!

And then....I cleaned out my closets. I have about three bags of clothes to go to donation, all mine. Why? Most of those were "work" clothes that I have not worn for over FOUR years! Now I work from home, mostly in jeans and a punk rock t-shirts (ok, sometimes my PJ's too.....), why would I need 11 pairs of teacher pants, 25 dresses, and various other dress jackets? So I pared it down to 5 sweaters, turtlenecks, 3 dress pants, and three nice dresses (two of which are feeding friendly and the other just too cute to get rid of just yet....). I kept my comfy jeans and cargo pants (5), most of my t-shirts (about 10).

It still feels like too much. I think once I pack up for storage the winter clothes I will feel better about quantities. Am I being weird? I know people with huge rooms full of clothes and others who have even less than I do, but really, laundry should have NEVER gotten so out of hand and I think the sheer quantity of clothing was party to blame.

So why was I hanging on to so many items of clothing? Part of it was that little inkling on me that was having a hard time letting go of being in the traditional work world. I still work, but the dress code has changed! Now I will allow myself the freedom to buy more punk rock t-shirts, you know, since they are required at my new job, ;P.

I also packed up the maternity clothes that no longer fit me to go to storage. Last time I just gave them all away and then had nothing to wear this time! (You know, just in case......) Which reminds me, thank you to Saratar and LifeDreamed and my MIL for helping me with that problem! MIL actually bought and had tailored pants for me and my friends graciously lent me LOTS of clothes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

****edited to add****
Lil'Bug has gone through 3 outfits today, ruined two of mine, filthied 2 towels, and the mess continues as I pause to take note of it. There will be at least three loads of laundry by the end of her joyous rampage. Ah, the virtue of childhood! :)

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Tuesday in the Afternoon

Today I feel really warm, from the inside out. Calm.

I went out and examined the Praying Mantis case. It vibrates to the touch, I could hear it humming. Truly amazing. That's how I feel. Buzzing with energy, a sweet hum from the deep inside. Encasing a precious new life.

I am surrounded by friends and love and the green beginnings of Spring. I feel so full of energy, yet I know to take it easy. So Lil'Bug and I are simply enjoying the sunshine. After yesterday, I really expected to feel tired, worried, and tense.

I don't. I feel reassured that my instincts were good. I feel blessed. I feel free of a burden (the fibroid) and relieved/grateful that it has passed. I want to laugh. Dr.s kept telling me that fibroids must be removed by surgery and I've lost almost a full pound of them since Lil'Bug was born, and now the last vestige during a pregnancy! I am blessed, no doubt.

I am wishing you all have a wondrous, happy day as well!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Busy Weekend

This weekend we packed, sorted, and threw out things. We are preparing for an upcoming garage sale, but it is more than that.

I threw away things from my childhood that have meant a lot to me for 30 years. They were no longer sanitary to keep around and there was no real way to clean them. Why did I hang on to stuffed animals for so long? They reminded me of refuge in the storm of abuse. They reminded me of people who actually loved me. It was time to release the baggage of those things. My husband reminded me as I cried over it that I don't need cloth and button eyes to remember people who loved me, I have many other things including the fact that I survived and thrived despite what happened. Point taken.

As we were doing this, someone knocked on the door. It was the guy down the street who wants to buy our house and borrowed my thesis. I chatted with him for about 45 minutes, he still wants to buy our house. That's cool. Also, uplifting since I know he would care for it the way I do. That is important to me, even though I know that when/if we list with an agent I won't have a choice. I've just spent 10 years loving this place and I'll admit, I still do.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Thoughts of Today

Soon after the kids from our group started showing up, but they were the older kids. They tried to play with her but her mood had turned so dark that it was difficult to do and eventually they gave up, leaving her alone by a tree. That day was bleak.
Ah, that's just it. That is what has happened to me. Last summer I had a huge blow out with a close "friend", justified though it may have been on my part. The months following my mood has been so dark and bleak that anyone who has tried to be my friend ends up feeling drained and "leaves me by the tree".

So it really is more about me and what I am projecting. I need to get back to the place I was before last April, the happy, giving, spirited person who didn't find, search for, flaws in everything in order to back away from it. What I used to search for was what I could give people, what they needed, (often materializing something from my attic....) I don't live in a puddle, I live in an ocean of friends and opportunities. One *edited* "sea witch" should not keep me from swimming.

Also, I have come to realize that simply acknowledging the issues is not the same as releasing them. I am still kicking around some of my anger, especially on days like today. Lil'Bug is upstairs crying in her room off and on. In between she is playing happily. She's asked for some alone time, so I am just letting it unfold. I don't cry often, maybe I should, but I generally get angry instead and lash out. The heart of it is how sad I am sometimes. If I focus on that, I will lose out on some great friendships. Thank you all who emailed me and posted about the last post.

Thursday, 27 March 2008


This is an issue we are dealing with here at Chez Podkayne lately.

For Lil'Bug it really started about two weeks ago at Park Day. Some kids were there (not from our group) and were playing pirate, her favourite! Unfortunately they yelled at her and threw sand, calling her a baby and a girl and telling her because of those two things she can't be a pirate.

Broke. Her. Heart.

Soon after the kids from our group started showing up, but they were the older kids. They tried to play with her but her mood had turned so dark that it was difficult to do and eventually they gave up, leaving her alone by a tree. That day was bleak.

Recently at playgroups I have noticed, as the kids get older maybe?, that the boys and the older kids seem less willing to play with her. Perhaps it is that she is less willing to play by their rules and wants to have input. I don't know. I do know that sometimes even when people come here to our home and play with her toys, she ends up being left out. This makes her cry, but also hit and kick and get mad which does not lead to kids wanting to play with her. THEN she is upset for days.

The girls that are her own age are few and far between. She does ok with them though if we are not at home, but she still prefers pirates over princesses and that seems to be a problem with that age group of girls.

This leads me to the other side of this. I know exactly how she feels. I don't fit in either. I don't try to, but there are certain things/rules I really didn't know until recently. I didn't know that it is polite to bring food to a playdate, a dish, a bread, a snack, some offering. I didn't realize how important the telephone still is to socializing with women. Big problem for me. Mostly, I don't know much of how to be a good friend. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I stick a big warty foot in my mouth.

It doesn't feel good to hear that many of the moms all get together and have girls night out, even though I couldn't go even if I wanted to. Why? Something else that separates me from them: I work. I stay home with my kid but I also teach college classes online. My "free time" is spent grading papers and communicating with students and filling out paperwork. I blog and read blogs when my grades are downloading. The rest of my time is spent with my family, tending house, or learning with Lil'Bug. My husband is attending classes online and working a lot to prepare for the time off he will take when June Bug arrives, so I take up the slack. But the not feeling good about it is not resentment for my life, it is feeling like I am being left out of that circle of friendship, something strong and good and rejuvenating, like the cool kids are sitting there with their back turned on the art geek. Been there, thought it sucked then too.

I actually had a friend recently tell me that she just doesn't click with me, when she thought she would. I like honesty, but ouch. That left me doubting myself, which was even worse. What about me was unlikable? (Plenty, is the answer. I am human and have personality flaws. I know this.) Still, pregnancy hormone fed emotions swelled up and left me bleak as well.

This is definitely an issue I will have to work out if I am going to help Lil'Bug. It was also an issue I thought I could ignore if we were moving to Ohio, but it looks like that won't happen for many years now, if ever. The important thing here is that Dearest Husband found out how I was feeling and boosted my self esteem. What a wonderful guy. :) He offered to rearrange things so I could have a night out, but that's not really what I want. I like spending time with my family. I don't need a night out.

Then there is this online wonderful circle of friends that I belong to. Perhaps that is why I come here daily now when before I simply checked email. I've actually avoided blogging about much this week because of how rotten I was feeling (also WAY busy!), but perhaps what I need to do is blog more and perhaps take up walking in the mornings or even with Lil'Bug in the afternoon.

(I sigh and lookout the window.....) is snowing. I thought that the thunderstorms this morning were rolling in with Spring, not bring one last dose of freaking Midwestern winter. Grrrrr.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


Today served as a reminder for me as to how far I've come.

10 years ago I thought breastfeeding a 1 year old+ was yucky, co-sleeping was dangerous, and the no vaccine crowd was a danger to our society. I was the one who made nasty comments in public about people who did these things.
10 years ago I preferred boxed food and felt a little sick even thinking about food from someone's garden let alone eating it.
10 years ago there was no way I was changing my name when I got married. Hyphenated maybe.
5 years ago I had a closet full of harsh cleaning chemicals that I used without gloves.
5 years ago I put down my pen and camera and pursued a career instead.
4 years ago I was still pretty sure that food labeled "organic" was a scam and it was the same food as the other but with a higher price.
4 years ago I was warned away from La Leche league when I probably could have used their support more than most.
4 years ago I trusted most advice anyone gave me.
4 years ago I didn't know how to change a diaper.
3 years ago I worked full time with a newborn baby in daycare 9 hours a day 5 days a week.
2 years ago I worked part time with an infant then toddler in daycare.
2 years ago I started to help in our garden and kitchen.

Now I prefer fresh food even over organic produce, even better picked right off the vine in my own back yard.
Now I understand what pesticides and hormones and preservatives in food did to my body.
Now I understand the importance of community and finding support for my choices.
Now I can change a diaper (though I have not in almost 2 years), kiss a boo boo, and change a load of laundry at the same time.
Now I work at home and not when I should be present for my family.
Now I question what we use as cleaning aids in our home and on our bodies. I am working to not have anything in our home that would kill us or our pets or our garden.
Now I seek out my own answers, co-sleep, breastfed a 2.75 year old who weaned herself, I vaccinate but question when it is necessary.
Now I homeschool.
Now I can cook to feed my family and understand the basics of kitchen chemistry and have only a 5% chance of starting a small kitchen fire.
Now I honor the commitment made to my husband and family by taking his name and making it my own.

It did not happen overnight. It did not happen upon the birth of my first daughter. It is still happening now. I am evolving into the mother and wife that I want to be and finding all the best parts of me once left abandoned. I am working towards gentleness for my family and myself.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


Last night was Bradley class. We did an encouragement exercise and went through the stages of labor. Lots of questions were asked by us and other students. What can go wrong, what steps lead up to interventions, etc.

After class, Dear Husband and I spent a little bit of time in the car driving to get Lil'Bug from Nana's house discussing things. He was concerned that I am over analyzing what went wrong with Lil'Bug's birth and blaming myself for things beyond my control. ???? So we talked. My memory is pretty fuzzy about that day's events, it was interesting to here it from his perspective. The summary of it was this: the fibroids did horrible things that made the chemicals and muscles in my body not able to function in accordance. Labor was impossible with no dilation and zero effacement and yet strong hyper contractions. Add IV chemicals to the mix and it became a dangerous situation. We made the right decision to C-Section to end up with us both healthy.

Does this mean that early on I could have done things differently to have a better outcome? Maybe. The fibroids were pretty established when I got pregnant. I ate well, but not as well as I now know I could have. I didn't exercise, I didn't inform myself of all the possibilities. I simply paid for things that I thought would safeguard us from intervention due to statistics. In reality, nothing could have. Perhaps if I had been informed better I would not have had such postpartum guilt. Perhaps.

Perhaps it is time to release those questions and move on.

The encouragement session was lovely. My husband is amazing and entertaining. When it was my turn to say nice things about him, it all came out wrong. So I will restate it here, for the record:
1) He's been wonderful about helping with meal planning and paying attention to the details. Variety and nutrition have been very important and having a second set of eyes on my weekly plan has really helped. As a bonus, he picks out the most awesome fruit and veggies and knows when they are ripe (I don't). Plus, he helps cook and doesn't complain when I try something new.
2) He is good about taking Lil'Bug out for Daddy/Daughter dates and giving me a chance to catch up at home or work or just rest. We have a tricky balance here of housework and my teaching online and Lil'Bug and Husband taking classes and playing in a band so our partnership is the key to what makes the balance work.
3) He reminds me to do my exercises and helps me to remember to take breaks. He's done his reading too. Every book I set next to the bed for him to read has been read. He's also been amazing when I get emotional and worried and freaked out.

I'm not including here the one thing I said he could do better. We all do that same thing at our house, and it was unfair for me to bring it up in class. I am sorry dear.

Sunday, 10 February 2008


In a quiet contemplation I realized a couple things: I am over complicating.

What that means to me is complicated, go figure.

In my search to find homeschool community I subscribed and became active in 3 local groups and a couple yahoo threads. I did this to test the waters, but I don't easily let go of things even when they are not working out. They are not working out. I jumped right in to planning and organizing and yada yada. In all but one group I was made to feel silly or excluded because my kid is only 3. All but one. Tag alongs that age and younger are welcome, but I don't have older kids so she's not a tag along and therefore not welcome? Huh?

So why do I keep going at it? Why not only go and pour energy into the one group that has always welcomed us with open arms? Why face the anxiety whenever this issue rears its head? Just to test myself? Bah. Release.

So, hopefully without burning bridges, I unsubscribed and downsized my profile on all but one group. I think it's the right choice for us and somewhere down the line maybe we'll step back in. The whole tag along logic thing is just too much for me to handle. It doesn't make sense. It is not fair. It is not "unschooly" group dynamic and I think that is the root of the problem for us. I just don't think Lil'Bug should be stuck with preschooler type activities if she is ready for more challenging learning. She's 3, but has mad verbal skills and can keep up with the 5-6 year olds. In playgroups that is who she plays with. I have a problem with age segregation on many different levels. It just seems so random, especially at that age where children all have varying skills and abilities and a brain spurt can happen overnight. Especially when we are life long learners and learning from life. I just don't feel welcomed in a group that doesn't welcome my child. I don't like that aspect of our society that separates our children from the world (and us) and designates things based on age instead of abilities.

I also have over complicated, perhaps defensively, my search for friendship. Instead of really making new connections and fostering them, I opted for group activities and hosting events. I think February and March will be a time for us to make more one on one play dates and really get to know people personally. This means, perhaps, that I should tidy the house up a bit. :) Lil'Bug prompted this by saying she doesn't want to just play, she wants to play with friends.

Then, what seems like out of the blue, I was asked to sit on a board for a homeschool advocacy/lobby group. Wow. I did serve on 3 statewide boards in my previous career and worked with non profits and marched our state capitol, etc. That's why I was asked, I'm sure. I know how it works and how to play the game. The thing is, I also know how much time it takes and how much time it takes away from my family. It is why I resigned from all the other advocacy work I did. However, this is important work and longterm. So this week, I am careful considering how that would factor with the baby on the way.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Winter Blahs or Whoo Hoos

I don't have the winter blahs. I had the blahs in the summer.

Our snow total for the season is 39 inches, our average is 30. Heh. More snow on the way. I think this helps, keeps the view outside fresh instead of muddy and slow. If we were not on a rotating sniffle schedule, we'd being playing outside in it.

Yesterday was a blast. I learned much about Chinese New Year AND the friend which I have been navigating troubled waters about was there. Surprisingly, I didn't even tense up. It was awkward at first, but ended up relaxed. No, we will never likely be as close or trusting BUT at least I had no panic attacks and it was proven we could be civil if not friendly. For me, it was a big step in the release goal.

Lil'Bug made new friends, we saw friends we hadn't seen since park day, and we just relaxed. It was nice to attend instead of host. All said, our venture out into the snow was well worth it. Oh, did I mention there was a cheese ball? I love cheese balls.

More later.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


Making progress:

I am experiencing quite a bit of anxiety over the Wii purchase. Sure, we made the decision for all the right reasons.....BUT.....

I grew up in a house with video games and violence and heartache.

I banished video games from my home because it was easier than looking at the big picture. Until this week I never explored this in my processing. I have always just said to myself, not in my home. I never related that we all had our coping strategies to deal with our childhood violent and unpredictable household.

My banishment of gaming is no less of a control issue. In reality games are a tool and we have worked hard to create a loving, gentle home. So I released that anxiety. I am also a little sad about the memories I explored today for meaning, but a little sad is way better than freaked out anxiety + 20 anger.

Tea time! Move on, clean cup!

Moving on, we made butter today in the food processor. That's how this place said to. Yeah, no. Next time I will use my mixer. The butter got too thick for the processor at one point; once it clabbered it was fine, but the heavy cream goo stage almost killed my new toy. Also, easier to move the bowl to drain the goo if it is in the mixer bowl AND since you have to use the bowl anyway for the end steps, using the mixer will mean less to clean up. Here's the pic:

We played pirates today. We kidnapped baby dolls and fed them chicken noodle (she doesn't say it noonel anymore...wahhhhhhh!) instead of dog hair stew and booger pie (what I told her pirates fed their captives, he he). Lil'Bug insists that she is a nice pirate. This is her ship and sail:

AND....that's pretty much our day. There was a dinner disaster where I had trouble cutting the roast up and splattered meat blood all over everything and then forgot to add water to the enchilada simmering beef mass (supposed to be strips) and so it is definitely not going to be ready for consumption anytime soon, or possibly just not for dinner tonight. Yup, that's just the domestic goddess that I am.

*edited to add: dinner was saved by some creative thinking on Dearest Husband's part plus a casserole dish. It was yummy, but too savory for my pregnant heartburn prone system. Gah. When did that happen? (Um, the prone to heartburn thing, I mean....)

Monday, 28 January 2008

Stormy Skies

The temperature right now is 49 degrees (F) and the snow is slushy and melting. I have a headache, possibly from the barometric pressure, possibly from stress. I had terrible dreams last night and woke up way too early and anxious. It is the anniversary of the Challenger explosion and my father's (who I haven't seen in almost 4 years) 58th birthday.

This weekend I had an opportunity to practice my revolution: Release. An email popped up in my inbox, a reply to an email I sent to a friend in June of 2006. I had just finished my thesis, changed jobs to stay at home with Lil'Bug and the diploma for my Masters had arrived in the mail. With that relief, I jotted out a quick email to the close friends that I had become distant from that Spring. Only one ever responded and I was heartbroken, left wondering why. Time marched on, I slowly made friends and found things to occupy my time but I was still sad and sometimes angry about the loss.

Guess what? Yahoo had put my email in spam/junk folders and the recipients had never received them. Huh.

So I have all this built up heartbreak I've been holding on to all because of technology? (Ok, my aversion to using the telephone is another blog altogether....) Back to the email on Sunday.....she found my email while changing accounts and sent me an invitation to be friends again, even a play date this week. I cried. Geeze, I'm crying now*. It wasn't a purposeful ending of friendship, it was a glitch. So I released all the hurt I'd been feeling. Bye bye. (Sob, sniffle, whoo hoo!...) *Fine, pregnancy induced crying. Perhaps I am making big deal out of small gesture? Whatever. Whoo Hoo!

I have felt so disconnected and angry and sad for so long about so many things in my life. How many of them should I let go of? What if it hadn't been a mistake? What if I'd just tried harder (ie picked up the phone and dialed) instead of the self pity crap? Release. I need to let go of the questioning I torture myself with and just freaking relax. Enjoy what is to come. Embrace it fully without hesitation or sullen regrets.

Several times in my life I had passionate dreams that were derailed by outside forces or my own learning and discovery. Today reminds me of that. I gave up too easily. I fight hard until I don't and then I just regret. Sometimes I succeed, I do have a Masters and a child to prove that. :) That's just it. Why not explore those interests I gave up on so early? Photography, astronomy, ornithology, poetry, training to be a paramedic......I can still do all of these things and on my own time for my own pleasure. I can rekindle lost friendships. I can foster and nurture new ones without hesitation.

I can heal.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Final Release

"Consider the lilies" is the only biblical command I have ever obeyed. --Emily Dickinson

So, through this all I may have sounded like a neurotic mess. Perhaps. My total perspective vortex swirls with my inability to see things in their context, ie. I tend to magnify the little things out of proportion and hang onto them them longer than is good.

So what next?

What comes after release?


Embrace those I love, the life we have chosen, the path we are happily stomping and dancing on.

Take it slow.

Consider the lilies. Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.... (Matthew 28).

That same section of verse also talks about how you cannot serve two masters and love them both. Indeed. Mine are clear. My family and my career. I realize that I've craved an external label to give me self worth: architectural historian, curator, professor.....and somehow forgotten the simple but powerful: mother, wife, sister, friend. A job does not define who I am, I do. Love does.

That's why I love the Harry Potter series so much: love defines the hero, is his super power that defeats all evil. In the end his simple act of fretting over his young child's worries, his fatherhood, demonstrates the subtle and powerful ways love manifests. Some people hated that ending, while I saw it as a shining tribute to the entire series. They don't say what career he ended up in, just that he is father and husband and friend. Those are the roles that matter in the end.

So for me, I need to embrace my life and not cringe away from it, not hold myself to impossible standards, and just like the all weather, dance and play and grow.

Here's to 2008 and all the wonders it holds!

Release: Part 6, The House

This one is really tied up in Identity too. For the past 9 years I've called myself the Mistress of Hatton House. The house restoration was my thesis and the reason I went to graduate school, the reason for my involvement in the local movement and government. It has been the only thing I talked about, my ice breaker, my lecture topic, my portfolio for assessment.

I am releasing all of that into the hands of strangers? Preparing my house for sale has been a heartbreaking, gut wrenching process and one I wonder if that inner ego of mine isn't sabotaging the effort. The house is mine, so shall another be. I do not belong to the house. It is a large gracious house, but a needy mistress in constant need of attention and care.

Since moving here, my non-fiction prose abilities have flourished but my poetry all but disappeared. I stopped painting, drawing, and colouring. All creative resources I had mentally and physically went into the house. My thesis was completed but the manuscript was not: it is stalled out and I know why. It's a long, hard goodbye. A novel, one chapter from completion.

Something changed when Lil'Bug came into our lives. The new form of our family became our story. What a grand adventure! I realized that the life we had been living was in no small part tied to my childhood hurt......thoughts went swirling- the happy part was on a farm. I loved living on a farm! Driving to a rural campus over landscape that touched these memories, that's when the dreaming began. Then I whispered it to husband. That whisper took hold of us and it is what we are actively working towards. It will be easier to say goodbye once we are closer to that goal, I imagine. Part of me will always be the Mistress of Hatton House......

Release: Part 5, Trust/Gentleness

I've been reading over at Happy and Free almost every morning. Stephanie has been writing these lovely posts about the parenting aspects of the unschooled and she is articulating something that has been swirling in my mind the last year or so. Everyone chooses what works for them and their families. I am on a quest to find what works for me and my family.

I want to be a gentle parent. I did not grow up with that. Sometimes I am worried that I will go too far in the direction away from that, that I will miss gentle and become negligent. I don't want that either. I have a deep respect for my child as an individual that began before she was born: I used to say, "I can't wait to meet her!" It's true. Everyday I wake up and I can't wait to get to know her better. I don't want to hurt her or her spirit so I have chosen not to use physical discipline.

I do get frustrated. Frustration is not working for me. The problem as I am coming to see it though is that my voice does not have to be elevated in volume to be "yelling". I tried something else. It worked much better, but I am worried over it too. I calmly said, "I am angry about what you are doing and this is why." I worry that in not portraying anger that I seemed like a robot.

It comes down to this metaphor: I never learned how to cook. In fact I was taught how to cook wrong on purpose so a very un-confident person could always upstage me and "save" the meal. That is not right to do to a child since cooking food is a life skill, and much intuitive. Parenting is like that for me too- everything I was taught and raised with was wrong. Not different- wrong. I know this, I know much of my intuition comes from this place. I knew this before we decided to have children and I was working on it then. I had to work on it in our marriage and as a person too. So when I welcomed my little one, I was much healed. I needed to read parenting books, try things out, and live it differently.

Lil'Bug is three years old. I've been reading about others who have children this age and are struggling with willfulness, disobedience, and other issues. I see manifestations of these things and I understand them to be a breakdown of communication. Lil'Bug doesn't disobey because usually when I've asked her to do something, I've asked and she sees it as a choice. Her stubbornness is usually a difference in how the situation is viewed. How would I deal with these situations if she was another adult? Sometimes the things parents do to children are humiliating and we would never consider doing them to a peer. We would never pick up and forcibly remove a peer from a situation, or pinch, or hit. Why? They would get physical right back. But we do this to children, why wouldn't they fight back sooner than later? Why do we as adults need to exert power over children and make them do things? Perhaps we do not trust ourselves? Perhaps it is easier to play the, "I'm bigger than you," card. Do we remove them to save ourselves embarrassment during a fit or to find a quiet place for resolution or spare them humiliation? (Removing from danger, not included.) Sometimes resolution is best found in the loud and noisy place, but easier removed.

So, I need to release myself from this bond of mistrust in myself as a parent. Breathe gentleness.

Release: Part 4, Baby Anxieties

I suffered postpardum depression with Lil'Bug, though I did not acknowledge it at the time. I was overwhelmed and unsure and nothing I did or wanted to do seemed to work: the sling I bought, breastfeeding, just holding her or sleeping. It was hard. It never got easier. I was given a sling that fit me, I learned to breastfeed her, and we slowly discovered how to live with each other. It was not the Pottery Barn fantasy I was sold.

Even though things got better, I was relieved to go back to work, to hand her over, to have a big long break to get back to myself and who I was before. And oh the guilt. It was fine for a while, but then life started happening. Everything unraveled quite rapidly. Babysitter quit, family was stressed, baby needed me, my studies were more intense. At that point Lil'Bug was 9 months old. I made a choice to be her mother more so than I was doing. I walked away from the me me me.

I won't get a 9 month break with 8 hour gaps of no kid time to figure things out this time. If I had PPD then, what will happen now? This time I will have Lil'Bug running at full speed too, it will be summer, Dearest Husband will still have to work and travel, we might move soon after........the anxiety mounts.

But why? Those can be seen as positives too. I shall release the anxieties for what they are. Then, in June, I will release the joy from my body and hold her in my arms.

Lil'Bug can share our joy and help. I know how to breastfeed, I have a sling that fits, I know how to change a diaper and bathe and dress a baby (right, did not know before Lil'Bug.....), I have a friend network of other mothers AND I have no marketed disillusions like before. There will be poop, sleepless nights, more poop, gross stuff, and......I had to work through it with Lil'Bug to learn this.

I will love and cherish everyone of those fleeting moments as they come.

Release: Part 3, Identity

This is trickier. I was once a star prodigy in our local Historic Preservation movement. I was named by the local paper as a new leader to be watched in local politics. I served, youngest member ever, on a City Commission and on two statewide boards, and served as a curator at a local museum. All before age 28. Then I completed my MA in Historic Preservation/History/Writing. I was called when a sweet job opening came up at the State Agency that oversees all things historic architectural in Iowa (didn't take it though). The list goes on.

Getting pregnant and having Lil'Bug did not slow me down even a little bit- I just put on a sling and took her with me. Then my babysitter quit. I got a call from the local jr. college to teach. I quit my 40/7 job and took a teaching position that was 15/5 plus work at home. I was in negotiations with investors for a house rehab business when one of them expressed concern that I wouldn't be able to handle a toddler plus all that would be required for this business.

Then it all stopped. He was right. I couldn't handle it all. Or I could, but my family couldn't. Something would give and it would all shatter.

I resigned my posts. I cut back teaching even more and took up online classes. I finished my degree.

I miss it. I miss the limelight. I miss people, news reporters, and friends calling me for sound bytes and advice. But if given the choice again, I would not choose it. I would choose my family. I would choose the path that I am on now. The old life was constant running and social activity with no real personal connections. I need to find a way to release my sadness and maybe find a way to fill the need that the other things did. It was problem solving, creating beauty, and having a positive impact on my community.

Hmmmm.... Parenting does all those things too! ;) I think what I need is to further my quest to make it to the farm life we've been dreaming of. Maybe work on my novels. Paint. Photograph. Re-establish my identity to myself. Really nothing is missing, just a definition to myself. The ability to say, I'm a mother AND an artist, writer, ect. Why do I need those definitions anyway? Why can't I just be me, simple, no labels? That's fodder for another day. ;)

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Release: Part 2, Emotional Well Being

Release heartache, tension, and bottled up emotions. Sounds simple, so is anything but.

I still hold on to resentment about how I grew up and how I was or wasn't treated. It was awful. Painful. All that. Would make a great Lifetime movie I'm sure. But I walked away from it 10 years ago. A decade. Well, maybe not all of it. The most toxic person took a little longer to get away from mostly because of the proximity of location and relation, it was only 4 years ago. Still, years. Releasing myself from the hatred and anger does not mean I will forget or reestablish contact- but it should free me from a lot of stress and tension and fear, both of which hinder my creative potential. Forgiveness? Yeah, I'm not there yet.

More recently, this past summer, I had a falling out with a very close friend. At the end of the confrontations, I felt used and betrayed and unloved. Why? It was rather one sided and all the emotional heartache was heaped on me. Because of this I am having a harder time trusting and settling into new friendships. I am also angry at myself for missing the obvious. I need to release this and let it go. I spent 2o years of my life closed up from people, afraid of what they would think of me. Then, I only let my husband in. When I opened myself up to this friend I was very vulnerable and suffered for poor choices. Sure, I took a small step and failed, that does not mean I should sit down and give up! Recently I have been blessed with plenty of wonderful opportunities to connect with people and establish safe, supportive, nurturing small grace. I need to embrace this and not cower away from it.

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same (The Fray). In all of the above things, I looked at the big picture, the health of everyone involved, and made a choice. A choice we have to live with. I don't regret my actions, I need to release myself from the questioning. It is done, I need to move on. Just writing this brought on a tension headache. This part, this release is a bit like grieving. I've been grieving for years, it is time for a new beginning.