Not a moment too soon

sometimes-you-need-a-moment-sometimes-you-need-cake

There is a children’s book  called The Cloudspinner – a book about a boy and the environment. A favorite of both the adults in our family as well as the children. It’s a beautiful book–its message, story, and the theme all wonderfully working together to compliment each other.

One of the wonders of the book (at least for me) is the use of lyrical language and the phrase “Enough is enough and not one stitch more” which reinforces the theme of the story. I’ve thought about that phrase on more than one occasion during the back to school bedlam of emotions that I’m still in the throes of.

One of my friends has a blog called Right Where We Are. It’s a homeschooling blog primarily, with some personal insight on her family and joys and the struggles of what it means to be a family. Meaning: A good mix of the pain and the beauty of life.

While not new to the school rodeo (and no new transitions with new schools, or changes or anything new of note) I’ve been holding these phrases close, as it perfectly describes my feelings about life at the moment. Well, at least in my tiny little hemisphere of writing, children, family and laundry. While I’m not going through any new transitions or changes or anything notable personally, these phrases–not one stitch more and right where we are–have been the anthem to what I feel lately. Meaning: I can’t feel or be what I want to be until I acknowledge where I am.

Which for the past three weeks apparently translates to eating everything in the house that’s not nailed down.

Add in a couple of ice cream treats too, because hey–summer’s ending. Or a chocolate piece or three because – well, children and bedtime. Sometimes you have to bring in reinforcements. Especially when bedtime is a hot mess, sometimes nothing comforts or heals quite like a square of dark chocolate.

I’ve been admonishing myself these past weeks; after all, I’m on a plan! I need to take care of my health! Liz, you don’t do this! You need to clean up your act and return to the familiar routine that includes more fruit than say, Oreos. Zucchinis over frappuccinos!

And yet in all of this I’ve realized: This is right where I’m at emotionally.

That sometimes, emotionally, you can’t move on until you see the landscape of where you are. And apparently, that landscape involves cookies and other comforts for me. Which didn’t stop, or couldn’t stop for that matter, until I sat down with coffee and quiet a couple of days ago and thought about all the feelings (justifiable or not) that the returning to the school year brings out in me.

Regardless of whether or not I’m the actual person returning to school.

I’ve found that for me, I have to sit quietly to slow down enough to catch with my emotions (mine tend to run wild and free like unbridled ponies unless I help corral them) and remember that each one of them, crazy and strange as they are, are ok. And whether or not it’s “right” to have this specific emotion for such a minor event as back to school – it’s ok. Transitions–big or small–effect everyone differently.

And back to school – the bedlam and chaos that ensues from a disruption of the summer routine and involves me getting my act together (and my pants on) much sooner than I’d like or am ready for – well, apparently I need treats and coffee and time to finally realize that I’m a bit emotional about the passing of time and need a moment to catch up with those thoughts.

And sometimes, with a piece of cake.

Just listening

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Thank to Stoonn and freedigitalphotos.net for the image

Can we be honest here?

I’m not sure what the hell I’m supposed to be doing.

While I’ve had (what I’ve felt over the course of several years) was a calling from God to write, I’m not so sure anymore. There have been things that have developed (now that I can clearly see with two undistracted eyes) that need some addressing and taking care of, now. More immediate than the lifelong dream of being considered a “writer.”

Nothing bad, no, and thanks for asking.

But I’m seeing things and behaviors in my family unit that I just accepted because well, I was too busy to address, and here’s the frightening thing: even notice.

Too busy to even notice.

From me, the Always Constant Noticer, the One Who Remembers, or so I’ve been called (and have recognized that tendency in myself ), this is terrifying.

Too busy to notice. Which is heartbreaking to me because it begs the question: What else have I missed?

What else has sailed on right past me because I was too busy building my career, focusing on me, wondering, just when in the hell, I could have a writing career of my own?

Please hear me: ambition, work, not bad things in life. Good things, actually.

But when you realize you perhaps, have a problem with ambition, in that it drives you to see only you and how things might work out for you, I think you have a problem. I’m using the word you, of course, meaning me.

What other things will I find under this big heavy rock of selfishness, I wonder lately.

And each time I wonder, more worms. More selfishness. More, sigh, dirt.

My husband reminds me that I’m changing too, a transformation of my own, and to not be so hard on myself.

But still I wonder what more I’ll uncover, hesitant. Though ironically knowing that what I discover about myself (negative or otherwise) is really, truly an opportunity.

An opportunity, yes. Even if it feels a little bit (I won’t lie: a lot) like pain and something I don’t want to have to deal with.

It’s like what they say about sickness and also well, my personal thoughts about clutter/cleaning up: it always gets worse (or seems worse) before it gets better.

So, that’s what I’m reminding myself now. To holding on. To hold on and know deeply that all the things and relationships I had in a certain arrangement in my previous life are transforming, changing, shifting. Just like me.

And through it all, remembering to listen to God. Because if He’s changing me, the dreams I’ve held for several years may also need a bit dusting off too.

All I can do is wait. And listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I miss brunch

I miss brunch

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Thanks to Cornelia Rammler and Freeimages.com for the use of the image

Of all the things parent and young family related, there are quite a few that warriors called parents and/or guardians give up from our previous “life” that we let go of for our family without a problem.

For you and me, I imagine that list may look somewhat the same, somewhat different. But since we’re all sharing, here’s my list of my things I haven’t minded giving up on behalf of my children:

-Most nights, late dinners (hangry is a real problem for me)

-Swimming parties/pool parties

-Late nights (meaning, out past ahem, 8 pm.)

-Hanging out by the pool all day or at the beach all day (and cue Alanis – because guess where I grew up? The beach. Isn’t it ironic…)

-Days of silence, without chortles or giggles, or before, when I was single, days without kisses

-To some degree, the whole gym scene

-A predictable bedtime routine with responsibility for only putting myself to bed

For the most part, I don’t miss those things at all.

Especially the early-to-mid twenties pool parties that seemed to be prevalent in my day, where I felt uncomfortable hanging out in the middle of the day (I am nothing if not  productive and/or a napaholic. Plus, the idea of “working a room” poolside makes me take deep gulps of air to calm down.) And then, at a pool party there’s the whole other level of discomfort – doing above uncomfortable activities in a bikini. Lots of panic at the disco for me.

And yes, I know – I must be a thrill to be around.

So, when we had kids, thankfully a lot of the things I found not so enjoyable went away as a matter of nature by the routines of having small children entail, and a lot of great things came as a matter of course. And yes, we had kids for a reason…and we wanted them and clearly, wanted to add more joy and a whole lot more chaos and mess into our lives.

But I will say – I do miss brunch. Or at least, the idea of brunch.

And sure – maybe you don’t, maybe you can still do brunch (you have a newborn, or a kid who doesn’t fall apart completely with late naps, or maybe you birthed an angel) but, as a young family who is so close to being able to withstand a late breakfast/earlyish lunch affair, I sure do miss them.

And yes – I’ve heard the flack about it – it’s the previous week’s leftovers, sometimes. The champagne isn’t that great. It can be loud and it can be packed but man oh man – a couple of hours to eat and chat and drink coffee into the early afternoon and maybe look at a newspaper in peace…would be nice. Brunch, in my opinion, is spectacular. It’s a mini Sunday (peace, relaxation, rest) all squished together with yummy foods and hot coffee brought to you by a lovely stranger, all within a span of two hours.

Last year about this time, I had brunch in Paris, at a nice little café with co-workers and friends on a business trip and it was lovely, I won’t deny it. A Parisian omelet (the real deal, in my opinion) and nectar of the gods coffee that was sweet and deep and warm and filled all the holes in me that an 8 hour flight poked in on the night before. So…perhaps this is where this little brunch craving is coming into play.

Or, perhaps, the fact that I’ve just done a total 180 with my life and priorities and it’s naturally affected how much time I have with my husband and myself makes brunch suddenly sexy. And glamorous. And wonderful. Just like how M&Ms look when I’m on a no-sugar spree.

It’s a very familiar feeling for me and perhaps you too – the crazymaking of being this close to Major Goal (whatever that may be – retirement, the big 4-0 or 5-0, New Baby or the next level on Candy Crush) that you almost just can’t stand it. The closeness of it (much like how I feel about brunch, and potentially, writing a book proposal) is making you crazy. Absolutely crazy, due to it’s nearness. It was so much easier to be mannerly and patient, and well, sane when the goal wasn’t so close.

Which, is not unlike the last four days of my first pregnancy. The last four days were harder than all of the other pregnancy days added up together. I could so closely see the chalk on the finish line that I about whimpered all the way up until the end.

Anyways.

And I imagine, not so different than my recent brunch obsession. So close I can taste the eggs and peace.

But, until then, we’re all hanging out in what I’m calling this Wild Middle. The Wild Middle where you’re waiting for things to happen. Also known as Life. And, as we all sagely know, it’s a Whole New World when we get there.

But until we get there, I’ll heat up the coffee.

 

Five Minute Friday – Rhythm

Five Minute Friday – Rhythm

So! Here we go again, another Five Minute Friday, this time on a Sunday-day.We’re going with whatever works, still, until life moves a little slower and more predictable for me, which, hopefully will be in less than 15 years from now, but who knows. I have very small children, so no one hold your breath on that one, ok?

In the meantime, just note that my Five Minute Fridays–will be anywhere from Friday to, um, Thursday night. Yes, I do believe I posted that late once; the good news about this group and challenge is that it’s full of grace and forgiveness. And thankfully too, each week is a new week to start over and aim for Friday night writing, should life line up accordingly. Which happens for me, it looks like once in a blue moon or every other month or so.

For a reminder-this Five Minute Friday thing is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  Or propensity for run-on sentences, like I do.  Pretend those don’t exist or don’t matter. (Ha!) And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready?

go-

Rhythm

thanks to savit keawtavee for the image.
thanks to savit keawtavee for the image.

We all sit gathered around a tiny table in a restaurant wondering how and if this planned “dance” that we are doing is really going to go down, and everyone’s a little guarded, defensive, unsure about themselves and the inevitability of this dance going to the world-wide interwebs where the judges on their couches and in dark rooms with bright computer screens will deem you internet gold or rusted metal in an instant, all based on their impression of your moves, your rhythm.

And the truth is that we’re not afraid of the publicity so much as we are afraid of the judging of our awkward bodies dancing, trying to find the rhythm to a song, which is really trying to find a rhythm to a soul that is so vulnerable and childlike that we dare to say that we are one of the ones that belong to over-populated club of “Does Not Dance.”

I may or may not be one of the card-carrying members.

But really, the only difference the ones that can and will dance, madly, passionately, unashamed like those brave souls on the Ellen show is the confidence that they have to listen to their own soul, revel in their own awkward body movements and shapes, and be ok with whatever funny (or cool) shapes their arms and legs contort into.

These are the truly unafraid.

We need to remember to find our own rhythm, be ok with our own feeble, erroneous and most of the time not-so-graceful selves and just lose ourselves in the music.  Toddlers do it, and we applaud voraciously and find joy in them finding movement, the need to move in such an imperfect way yet we so afraid to be so vulnerable as to just dance?

Though it scares me breathless some days, I find this vulnerability (my freestyle dancing at the heart of this matter) one of the most beautiful gifts this life has to offer.

May I not be so scared by the moves and rhythms of my own soul.

Five Minute Friday – Fall

So! Here we go again, another Five Minute Friday, this time on a Sunday night.

We’re going with whatever works.

So, this time I was an overachiever and wrote for longer than five minutes, and the time limit is a big part of the rules of Five Minute Friday, so this time, sharing with you all, but not linking up, as it doesn’t seem to be fair. I’ve found that for me, writing is like the running I did in my teenage years–sometimes, I just needed to keep running, farther and longer than I had planned, not because of any calorie or health-driven reason, but simply because I needed the mental space, that the running helped clear my head.  Writing most days, is not unlike the running of my youth.  So hence my over-five-minutes Friday entry.

For a reminder-this Five Minute Friday thing is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  Or propensity for run-on sentences, like I do.  Pretend those don’t exist or don’t matter. (Ha!) And then you have to be brave (or at least pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready?

go-

Fall

Thanks to Paul Gooddy for the image.

Fall-a season, a word, a noun, and mostly, an action we’d rather forget.

A fall from grace, a trip, slip and a fall that eludes that we are anything but dignified, smart, and reminds us constantly, obnoxious in it’s pride, that we are not in control.

We’re not ever in control, we tend to forget this.  Falling frequently, mostly stumbling and tripping on my own human feet and inadequacies tends to help me remember. There’s yet to be a sidewalk crack in my path that I haven’t tripped over.

Our frequent falls, fails, mistakes, missteps, errors of judgement and timing tell us something we’d rather not articulate: we’re not in control at all.  That control, of anything it seems, is really just an illusion.  And a really funny one, a fun house distorted mirror, and seems especially cruel if you have small children underfoot.

Our falls remind us that we’re human.  Which is not a bad thing.  Perhaps that’s why we’re so embarrassed of them when they happen, it lets us know there are greater things than us our there, it connects us to our roots, the very essence of who we are: messy, fumbly, awkward and desperately in need of each other. Perhaps that’s also why, when we get older, we tend to be more embarrassed of a fall; we are adults, supposed to hold it all together. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has an older relative that is shameful of a slip.  But the falls are a gift—a reminder that we’re not robots, perfect or complete, and the greatest joys and sorrows is to live our life to the fullest in our temporary skins and emotions.

But the thing to remember is this-all of our mistakes lead us to the greatest of falls: falling on our knees.

Deep happiness

Thanks to gubgib for the image.
Thanks to gubgib for the image.

I am happy.

It’s taken me so long to say that, but I am finally happy, in a way that is deeply joyful, happy in a way that feels more like long-lasting joy than happiness in say, finding the perfect pair of shoes which so often the sort of short, temporal lift I get when thinking about life and happiness—it all feels so fleeting.

This all occurred to me several mornings ago when I woke up, randomly, at 2:30am.  And I wasn’t wide awake, but sort of woke up with a jolt, and couldn’t go back to bed right away.

So, I thought about some things, thought about some other things, and then thought about just at that moment, how deeply blessed and grateful I was for this life, this exact life.  Which, if you’re anything like me, is amazing.  If you’re anything like me, some days you wish for someone else’s life, maybe someone who has it more together, is more organized, is less prone to over think and more naturally joyful.

If you’re anything like me,you tend to think your life needs to be a lot more Pinterest and Facebook-worthy, just some how a more beautiful and Photoshopped version of what you have and who you are, and before you know it, the comparison bug is biting you in the leg again.

But this morning was different.  It was a true appreciation for exactly where I am now, for exactly what I have now, and no, we’ve haven’t just all the sudden become millionaires. No, our lives are suddenly perfect.  Yes, there is still confusion and chaos and disappointment and disorganization running rampantly and abundantly in our lives.

But this feeling, this thought was so real and tangible I wanted to hold it, keep it forever: a deep, simple of sense of gratitude and contentment for a wonderful husband, this strange and yet familiar relationship of being a wife, parent, and a person maybe finally becoming comfortable in her own skin.

And knowing that all of this is good, even knowing what I know is to inevitable come: more temper tantrums, dirty diapers, loose teeth, arguments, sibling rivalry, work-life balance negotiations, difficult choices and going through growing pains and all the other things that come with what it means to be a family.

That this is good, come changes in fortune, luck, seasons and those days I blatantly misjudge and  feel like I’m getting the backhand of God instead of the usual open-handed fullness I feel from Him.

That this is good, no matter what changes or what stays annoyingly the same, that this, this mess and beauty that is life, is all good.

And I’ve been taken aback at how this feeling was so refreshingly simple, deep, and yet so full all at the same time.

All my life I’ve been chasing at meaning, happiness, grasping empty-handed at this full-of-life feeling, vivacity, like it was some complicated algorithm that I was never going to be smart enough to understand.

And I’ve realized now, it’s not. Not that complicated. The one who has complicated it has been me. This feeling-it’s just a deep appreciation for where you are, with who you are, and who you are with, regardless of how many piles of laundry that it brings, how many toddler negotiations you have to deal with, regardless of the dust, clutter, dancing and weeping and all that comes with, some days like unfriendly barnacles, the joy of family life.

Simple happiness.  Dare I say contentedness. Who would have guessed?

Five Minute Friday – Opportunity

I’m doing this 5 minute writing challenge again..and late. Again.  Same old song and dance.  I used to beat myself up about it, but this is my real life, this is what happens on a Friday night; I post late.  Or in this particular case, I post the Five Minute Friday on Saturday night.  Yes, I’m aware of the irony.  But, regadless-I’m still giving myself grace and yet also a pat on a back for doing it.

So, moving on-

A reminder in case you’ve missed it, this is the Friday Five Minute writing challenge, just in case, you know, you want to play sometime too-

This is a weekly writing “game”  from my bloggy friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who blogs (and writes heart-breakingly, beautiful words and stories) at http://lisajobaker.com/

So, here’s the challenge, should you accept it: you write for 5 minutes with freedom like you have no fear or shame.  And then you have to be brave (or pretend to be) and link up to her blog. Encouraging the writer who links up before you is part of the deal, too.  This last rule is crucial, as we all need to encourage others. Why encourage another writer? Because at one point or another in our lives, we all need encouraging too.

Each week is a new word, a new thought starter, and you have 5 minutes to write….and are you ready? go-

Opportunity

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thanks to Michal Marcol for the image.

Opportunity: it knocks, it shouts, it whispers, it whimpers, it begs to be let in, to take the chance, to ride the wild roller coaster of choice.

Opportunity is of course the name we give chance when it’s expected, when it’s something of a wish coming true; something so tasty we dare not let it pass us by without a small bite, a lick.

The ugly side of fate, is what we call opportunity that is unbidden, unwanted, and frankly so yucky that we dare not touch it.

But opportunity-opportunity is not the knock but really making the best of whatever comes along, whatever chance happens to land at our doorstep door. Opportunity really, is the choice we make by making the best of things-good or bad.