All I can say is that there is a reason that this is #1 on my list and it's the last thing I've completed both months. If "write my book" was not on this list I would not be writing it, it's that simple. It has made me realize that there are so many things that we *can* be doing, maybe even we *want* to do them (or think we do), but for whatever reason we simply DON'T *do them*. The good news is that I realized how important this book is to me and that I need to make a commitment to writing it. I need deadlines or I do not feel the pressure. I may have to make more artificial deadlines!
All that being said, I did work on my book again this month! Yay me! Again, I started another chapter and the book is really starting to have a "form". I'm feeling good about my next "baby". The gestation period for this baby remains to be seen.
Our sweet potato is sprouting a beautiful purplish vine! It's so fun to watch it grow.
Also, when my daughter and I were cleaning off my dresser we found seeds that were the favor at my good friend's wedding 2 1/2 years ago. We weren't sure if they were still "good" but were pleasantly (and quickly!) surprised when they sprouted up! This growing stuff is so much fun!
(I will have to add pictures later since we are in Florida and won't be home till March!)
February 1st - left my grandpa a message. February 2nd he left me one while I was teaching. I called him back while I walked to Mike's office after my class was over. It was very nice.
EDIT: My grandpa is not doing so well and has been in the hospital. It has been a very rough month for him. This makes me even more thankful that I called him. Prayers and positive, loving thoughts are appreciated.
I love when I'm lying in bed and get an idea about what I want to paint next. I had commented on Facebook how I'm "addicted" to connecting with people. And for a while now, whenever I feel particular "connected" to lots of people I imagine all of these lines or strings extending out from my body to all the people I love. I can almost feel them! So that is what inspired this painting. I especially love how it looks from across the room, a little distance makes it even more beautiful!
Mike requested and found a recipe for baked ziti. I have definitely never made it before so it fulfills this month's requirement in the category. I have to admit that it felt a bit like "cheating" though as 1) it was super easy and 2) it was very similar (but even easier!) than my lasagna recipe. I'm hoping to get something a little more exotic or different in next month. Also we are experimenting with cutting dairy out of Marisol's diet as much as possible to see if it helps her ears/nose/throat issues. If anyone has any good dairy free recipes or websites, please leave any links in the comments!
I have not made any progress on getting a "mother's helper" but I haven't tried all that hard. After my original post I had a couple of inquiries but they were all too far away to make it work.
One of the most consistent times that I get some time to myself is after teaching my Hypnobabies class. This past month I walked from home to Mike's office where he and the kids were playing after two of my sessions. I really enjoy doing this because I get exercise (it's a little over a mile), fresh air, and time to just breathe. Sometimes I talk to a friend on the phone (uninterrupted!) which is always a treat.
The best date I got this month though was a whole day out with Mike sans kids! We went to the Daytona 500 yesterday and it was a great day. The car ride there was so nice to actually get to talk. And it turns out that I actually really enjoyed the race too! Danica Patrick was the first woman EVER to sit on the pole (start first) in a NASCAR race - and it was the BIGGEST race of the year! Mike roots for Dale Earnhardt Jr. so between those two racers it was really fun to watch. Danica raced in the top 5 for much of the race and ended up 8th. Dale Jr. raced further back most of the race but ended up 2nd!
So my quest to carve out meaningful time for myself continues (quite successfully I might add).
I found a great cause to donate to this month. Amy Clover was raising money this month for her tour of the US and Canada called 30x30. Amy tried to take her own life a while ago and now she's turned her life completely around and is helping others do the same and find their own strength through working out. Suicide is an issue that has personally touched me in the past year. I think it affects everyone in one way or another at some point in their life. This is why I felt drawn to this cause this month. Check out her website here.
Did-it and done.
From my Together Walking Facebook page: "Today I am grateful for my life. More generally (or specifically!) I am grateful for Life. For manatees and rivers, for breezes and giggles, for iPhones and pelicans, for little, dirty hands on my face, and chocolate covered faces. Life is good."
And Marisol covered the "Awesome Jar" by putting Disney World in it before we even left for Florida! Since I'm confident it's going to be AWESOME, I felt ok about that. We head to the Animal Kingdom tomorrow morning!
My dresser got an overhaul this month - internally and externally. I went through and pulled out a whole basket of clothes to donate (purge) and then my daughter and I organized the top of it which was a dusty disaster (I only have an after picture, you're just going to have to trust that it is much better!)
I've taken several shorter, "day" breaks - including Mike and I both left our phones home when we went to the race. I was really glad that I did because I felt way more present without the distraction of looking at my phone for email and facebook updates. And I'm planning on taking my first bigger break now while we are at Disney! So I will not be uploading pictures as we are there - maybe later this week or next week when we are home. Wish me luck, I hope I don't have withdrawal!
I've been pondering the quote on this page. For a while I focused on the word "judging". I've grappled with judging and judgment many times. And I've kind of come to the conclusion that "judging" is kind of part of the human experience. After all making a "judgment" means that you are forming an opinion about something. That is what I do as a parent and as a writer here. I share my opinion about what I think is right and wrong, about what makes life sweeter or more difficult.
So the above quote really caught my attention. Will I ever *truly* be awake if I can't stop "judging"? I think of awake as being conscious, deliberate, and thoughtful. I am confident that all of those adjectives describe me. So how could I evolve more along these lines?
Last week I had an experience that pushed me closer than ever to my awakening. A couple of popular bloggers (and by popular, I mean these writers have hundreds of thousands of readers and followers - it's humbling) wrote posts that really got under my skin. And I'm not going to lie, part of what smarts so much is that they *are* so popular and these views that don't jive with me AT. ALL. are embraced by their readers.
So I started to think about how I want to feel and what I can do to achieve these feelings. Lately I've been advising lots of people to stop watching the news or inundating their consciousness with every little detail of the world's happenings (they aren't often happy). But I wondered if maybe I could use a little of my own advice. What purpose does it serve for me to read these blogs if they are just upsetting me? I mean, yes I could comment in an attempt to make my views and opinions heard. But really, I'm not deluding myself into thinking that I'm going to make much headway in forums like those.
I also do think it's healthy to hear different opinions of things. But quite honestly, it was as much *how* these opinions were presented that bothered me, as the opinions themselves. One in particular just wasn't respectfully presented.
So I made a choice to stop subscribing to these two writers - even though they are talented and funny and I often enjoy their work. It just wasn't worth the mental turmoil it was causing me.
A refrain in one of those irritating (to me) blog entries was "I don't care." And actually it's not that I mind those words. Sometimes the words "I don't care" are empowering. But if they are said to dismiss others or to fool ourselves into believing that something we really *do* care about isn't worth our time, then these words can be dangerous.
Ironically, these three words also led me to feel closer to my awakening. I'm getting closer and closer to "not caring" what others think. Don't get me wrong, I still *do* care greatly about other people. But the more comfortable I am in my own skin and in my choices and thought processes, the less I worry about what others think of me. Also, I cannot worry about other people's paths. Everyone is on their own personal journey of growth and each one is unique. Some people are going to resonate with my message and "truth" and other people aren't. And the more I can let go of trying to control what others think, the more I am able to stay on my path. That's what it means to be awakened and to not judge others. Because we can't help those that don't want to be helped. We can't force a horse to drink even if we are holding its face in the water. It's not my job to try and get people to agree with me.
My job is to be me and love everyone the best I can.
"I must be a mermaid...
I have always loved that quote and it still resonates with me.
I think a lot. I analyze more. I'd say "thoughtful" is a characteristic that pretty well describes me. I've always felt "wise for my years" - although the longer I live the more I realize how little I know, and that growth will always be a part of my journey.
But last night as we finished up watching "The Bachelor" and I had a Facebook "conversation" with a couple of friends about the show, I realized that I'm not really a mermaid... I'm a sperm whale (I know it's not as exotic as a mermaid, but come on, the image and the word "sperm" must make you giggle a little!)
I've talked about this with some of my friends. One of my best friends told me that she can "only" be friends with people who would subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and US Weekly. (We only subscribe to one of those in our house - luckily she's still my friend.) The point being, we can't take life too seriously ALL. THE. TIME. It's good to be thoughtful, deliberate, and be AWAKE in our lives. And that takes some effort. We have to examine ideas, question "truths" that have been fed to us our whole lives, identify what's most important to us.
When we grapple with these issues we're like the sperm whale diving deep into the ocean and wrestling with a colossal squid that will hopefully be it's dinner.
The sperm whale can dive down almost 2 miles and stay under for almost an hour and a half if it needs to. But eventually it needs to come to the surface to breathe. We all do.
And those long, deep dives aren't even the best for the whale's health (I just learned a lot from Wiki-pedia! My base knowledge of sperm whales came from "Wild Kratts" though - thank you PBS Kids.)
And just like the deepest dives are hard on the whale, we can't be serious all the time. It's not good for us! Laughter is good; and, combined with lightness, fun, and connecting with others, it's not just good, it's life-sustaining.
I need to remind myself not to take everything so seriously all the time. I do pretty well in my everyday life - my kids won't let me stay too serious (I mean a day can't go by without a huge belly laugh from my boy and a sparkly smile from my girl!) As a writer I seem to like to stay down in the depths, wrestling with my own giant squid ideas. It's where I'm comfortable. But I like to push my comfort zones, so I'm going to try and share even more of myself here, and include the silly, immature, and "shallow" parts of me. I hope you'll join me!
Can you guess which we subscribe to, the WSJ or US weekly? (Family and friends, please don't give it away!) How do you make sure that you come up for air and lighten up when things get too serious?
We've been on a really, really strange sleep bender around here. (ok, when I say we, I really mean Gerry. But he takes me for the ride too!)
Mostly I'm really proud of myself for how I've been dealing. But sometimes I forget how much of a toll it's taking on me. For example, sometimes I get what seems like "enough" sleep, but our hours are kind of all over the place and then when I'm tired I don't understand why! (Like today, Gerry went to sleep a little after 1 am last night... but then we were in bed till 9 am - not so bad in number of hours. But our schedule - haha, that word just made me laugh - has been so wacky lately I think it just catches up to me).
So, anyways - today. I'm going to try and focus on that. (I did just have my glass of wine too though, so focus is kinda hard right now.) I actually got showered and dressed before 11 (this is pretty unusual around here) and then Marisol requested to go outside (also unusual). We somehow convinced Gerry to go out and it was really nice out - sunny and quite warm compared to what it has been. The kids flitted from activity to activity - we were probably only out for around an hour, but they each did at least 3-4 different things. I'm so grateful to have that huge outdoor space and the luxury or running back and forth to get different toys/clothes/sports gear when they want it.
Back inside I got everyone a decent lunch and made zucchini bread. Then I realized how tired I was. And that we had to start gearing up for dance class soon. Oh boy. So I knew that now was the time to forget the pile of dishes in the sink, of clothes waiting to be folded, and toys on the floor. Now was the time to rest. Not long ago I might have pushed through and tried to get some things done since the kids were happily watching their respective TV shows. And usually those are the times I end up getting really burned out. Today I decided I needed to rest a bit before heading out (I took some time to take this picture of myself first though, haha).
When it was time to go I gathered us up in record time. Marisol was fairly cooperative getting her dance clothes on. Gerry was a mess (remember the 1 am bedtime?) He wanted "muk" and he did NOT want to leave. So I empathized with him the best I could and got us all out to the car as quickly as I could. I strapped my poor, crying boy into his seat. It only took two extra trips inside (grabbing the house key off the bunch connected to the key already in the ignition) - one for Gerry's socks and a stroller and another trip for a movie for Marisol (we had negotiations regarding iPhone use - big sister was very generous and agreed to using a DVD player).
I joked as we pulled out that I forgot my sunglasses and should I run inside one more time? Marisol and I agreed that no, one more time would be a bit ridiculous. But it was very sunny with perfect blue, cloudless skies. Gerry's crying subsided and I dispensed snacks and water bottles as I drove (I wonder if there have been any studies on accident rates of mothers). A few minutes into the drive she requested headphones - I didn't have any. I turned my music down (how I can listen to music with two other devices blaring behind me is another mystery - I guess it's a talent of mine.) I requested that Gerry turn his down and after refusing a couple of times he said, "Otay, I turn mine down". Peace resumed. Then about half way to dance class Marisol started making small, discontented noises. The sun was TOO bright and was interfering with her view of "Brave". I made a quick decision to pull into a gas station parking lot. I found a pink re-usable shopping cart and lowered her window, just a crack. Twisting from the front seat I slid part of the bag out the crack, yelling when I got a leg cramp, then I managed to roll the window back up.
At this point I was congratulating myself on my wonderful mommy performance. I'd been understanding, gentle, and empathetic with Gerry when he didn't want to leave but decisive enough to get us out the door. I was being flexible and patient in the car and really listening to the kids. Thoughts about self-love also ran through my mind and how, if I hadn't been able to be all those things, that would have been ok too. I mean everyone has their limits!
Marisol's improvised sun-shade seemed to help, but a few minutes before arrival Marisol started complaining about the sun again. This time I told her, "almost there." Gerry's eyes closed one minute before we pulled into the parking lot. Good thing I remembered the stroller!
I parked and then started to gather our things. I opened Marisol's door and this is when something happened - she was cold or upset that she hadn't seen much of her movie, "You can watch more on the way home," I said from the back of the car, pulling the stroller out. But all of a sudden Marisol decided she didn't want to go in. I tried to be matter of fact - we just drove all the way here, we are going in - besides she would have fun, I just knew it! But the crying continued and my frustration mounted. My limit was quickly speeding towards me. Gerry woke up somewhere in there and he didn't want to get out either. I admitted defeat but not without throwing my own tantrum - slamming doors and the stroller back in, then raising my voice with some not-so-nice words thrown towards my distraught daughter. I looked at the clock. We were already 15 minutes late.
We talked more and Marisol agreed to try to go in - but requested a couple of minutes to calm down. Heart melting a bit, I said, "Of course!" (How wise children are.) She climbed up front and sat on my lap. We talked more and I apologized for yelling.
Ultimately, she never calmed down. Her legs were tired (a very late bedtime the night before didn't help, and we talked about that too) and she just wasn't up for dancing. In my frustration I talked about quitting again (we've been struggling with dance class lately) but although when pressured she says, "fine!" neither one of us really want to quit - we already paid for her costume AND she really wants to do the recital (so do I!)
I wanted to try and go to the grocery store at least, but Gerry was refusing to get out of the car, so I gave up. Homeward bound we were.
My sweet girl and I talked more - "I love you Mommy," she said and I said sorry again. Eyes watering she said, "I understand why you were frustrated though." Oh my heart hurt. She's so beautiful.
So I focused on the good parts:
1) Gerry's nap had been limited to a couple of minutes, this was VERY good news (and yes, he slept from 7:30 last night till 7:45 this morning, yay sleep!)
2) We had gotten out of the house - and it was a BEAUTIFUL day!
3) Marisol and I talked - about getting to bed at a decent hour, and more importantly I got to say the words, "You are more important to me than dance class. You are more important to me than money."
4) Although I reached my limit and didn't behave in the best way, I also turned things around quickly my kids got to see me apologize and ask for forgiveness.
The funny thing is, I was so tired before we left. But I thought we were going to push through - maybe my intuition was trying to tell me something and I wasn't listening? I don't know.
But there you have it. Our day yesterday (I started writing last night, hence, the "today" at the beginning of this post and the "yesterday" now. Confusing I know, but I feel like leaving it this way with a long explanation...) I know this was long, but I'm glad to record these moments on our journey. And, my new affirmations are going to include things like, "My ability to love and listen is always expanding" because it's true - my limits keep getting pushed out by my kids. And I love and thank them for that.
Have you ever noticed that right when you start congratulating yourself, Life likes to deliver a small piece of humble pie? I'd love to hear some of your choppy moments!
One of the best things about starting to question - well, everything - is that after a while you start to enjoy it! Last year "balance" was kind of a big theme for me. I even put it in the center of my awesome "Mind, Body, Spirit" Venn diagram (and if that doesn't say "IMPORTANT!" then I don't know what does.) Balance has taken on an almost Legendary status in our culture - especially for the modern mama. Last year I argued that: There is no formula for perfect balance. Balance will look different for every person and it changes with time too. Still sounds pretty good. And of course I talked about children and balance, and how it's best if we can let go of trying to control them so that they can find their own balance.
So when I was reading Danielled LaPorte's The Fire Starter Sessions, and she proposed that - there's no such thing as balance - I did an emotional double take. WHAT?!? What does she mean, NO SUCH THING?? But the incredible thing is that instead of writing her off as some ranting lunatic, I almost immediately warmed up to the idea. I didn't just accept it as "truth" because she's so cool; no, I just liked that she was challenging an idea that was so deeply ingrained in me. And I understood quickly the point that she was making. She was talking about people who are profoundly passionate, who go deep into their work, who become so engrossed in something that everything else disappears. She was talking about becoming so focused on something that things like sleep and eating "healthy" food become extraneous. In the same way that I argued that "normal" can be boring at best, and harmful at worst, so can this idea of balance. This is especially detrimental when people ignore their callings and ditch the inner voice that guides them for an artificial idea of what Balance "should" look like in their lives.
But I still believe that it is important to take care of all of our needs - from the mental, to the physical, and the spiritual. So if I'm going to let go of the idea of balance, what am I going to replace it with?
My answer is "Flow". This word has also been on my radar a lot. I put it in my desire map between the feelings of "On fire" and "Peaceful":
The idea that I had is when there is a good balance (haha, old habits die hard!) between these two seemingly opposite feelings, then things will flow. What I've really begun to notice though, is that my core desired feeling of being "Connected" is my base - particularly with my family. When I am connected with them, then everything else is free to flow. When I am not, it's almost impossible for my my other core feelings to flow.
As I reflected more on this idea I also realized that "Balance" has a certain judgement attached to it. If we are trying to balance two things, we think of a scale and there being a perfect "amount" of the two things that will bring the scale into alignment. Any little bit off from this perfect amount on either side and we are out of balance - which means WRONG. A great example to me is exercise. Honestly, I still don't exercise that much since having my kids. But for someone who was extremely involved in sports and exercise right up until that time, it just doesn't bother me. I am active with my kids - playing tag, pushing them on swings, bouncing them on my birth ball until my arms almost fall off, learning to hoop with my daughter, sometimes taking walks (or even small jogs), jumping on our friends' trampoline with my son... and none of it is at a level that would be considered a sufficient amount of exercise by almost any expert. Yet, I am healthy and happy (and slimmer I have to add!) than I have ever been in my life.
I talked about how "me-time" as an idea doesn't sit well with me either. I think this is related to the idea of balance. From the outside it may appear to some people that I don't get sufficient "alone" or "down" time or time to do things that matter to me. And I'm not saying that I don't struggle sometimes. I do. But I struggle most when I try to force things and grab at what I feel like I deserve. If I can shift and trust that Life will give me what I need and accept each moment for what it is, Life has not yet failed to deliver. I live joyfully in the moment, connect with my loved ones, and get to do the things I am passionate about.
I become the flow.
When do you experience flow? Does this resonate with you or does it seem like "semantics"? If the idea of balance resonates with you, does it usually make you feel good to focus on it?
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.