"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I Can Do

The stories from Oklahoma are rolling in each minute. The tragedy and heart break is just stunning in their horror.

I am not reading a single one.

That is right. I am not. I am not reading, watching, listening, or in anyone absorbing as much as possible. It is not that I don't care. I care so deeply about such things it can be crippling. I will not allow myself to completely shut down. My children need me.

This is my common modus operandi. I avoid things concerning child abuse, the sex trade, animal abuse, and in general just people acting horribly to one another. Also, natural disasters are on that do not pay attention list.

These things cause me such pain I can feel it physically. I find the weight of the horror to be too much to bear. I will slowly start shutting down and detaching from reality in self preservation. I will cut off the world in order to make the pain go away. I am of no use to my children, my husband, my friends, or my community in  that shape. I am pretty much useless. So ultimately, there isn't a point.

But there are so many things I can do. I can look to what needs to be done right here in my world. I can donate to animal shelters. I can give food to local food shelters. I can organize a drive to gather self care toiletry bags for the homeless. I can run through a drive through to pick up a lunch for that man standing on the street corner with such desperation and humiliation. I can deeply listen to someone grieving. I can be a shoulder to cry on or a shopping service for a new mother. As the children grow older, I hope to do more and more to help those around.

I cannot change all of the terrible things happening in the world. It is not within my power. But what I can do, what you can do, is live a life each day practicing as much compassion, love, kindness, gentleness, and charity as possible.

Perhaps my actions will start a chain reaction that will someday change the world.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strength and Lessons

This is my gorgeous boy. He is very much his own person. He follows his own path and does it with courage and joy. This past weekend we had to rush him to the emergency room and then admit him to the hospital. It was a nightmarish experience with tubes into his stomach, catheters, IVs and invasive tests. Our hospital was amazingly good but it was rough to say the least.

But like all experiences, good and bad, I believe there is something to be learned. Here are a few things I learned.

I am one strong bad ass chick. It was HARD to see my baby in so much pain and undergoing such extreme procedures. It made me want to run away. Instead I chose to stay right by my child the entire time. I stayed calm for him. I promised him I would not leave his side and I didn't. He cried and I remained his rock even though my heart was being ripped apart moment by moment. I stayed. I stood witness to his experience, to his pain.

Living in the present really is the best way to live. I remained in the moment. I didn't worry about the future and what might happen. I refused to berate myself for the past and not seeing the signs sooner. I stayed right there. People would ask what is next and I would reply, I don't know. I just know what we are doing right now. Remaining in the present, in the truth of the moment enhanced my strength. Refusing to play the what if game enabled me to surpass the limitations I thought I had.

Even though I have been sloughing off the tyranny of the urgent, there was some still hiding. This experience taught me there is almost nothing that cannot wait until later. It also streamlined my priorities even more. There were things I was still treating as if they really mattered and they just didn't. Love matters. Compassion matters. Family, both blood and chosen, matters. Peace and joy arise for these things. The rest just isn't really that important.

We are home now. I am so grateful for this episode. He is now on a treatment plan that should ensure this doesn't happen again.We are far more knowledgeable about his condition. I am far more knowledgeable about myself.

I am so incredibly grateful for that wisdom.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Perpetuating a Legacy

About eight and a half years ago we bought this house. The moment I walked in the door I felt this beautiful feeling of home and sanctuary. It was strange because the house was rather neglected and not in the best repair. I later found out the home had belonged to a lady well into her 90's. Her husband had built this home for her when she was a young bride. The feelings of family, laughter, and love were imbued into the walls and  expressed themselves as a tangible presence if you would quiet your mind and let them touch you.

The garden was a tangled mess. It had been years since anyone had really tackled it. But there were hints of its past. At one time loving hands had nurtured the plants and flowers gracefully guiding them to express the beauty they possessed. At one time someone who loved to garden had reigned.

We knew nothing of gardens but we jumped in with both feet. We made mistakes. We managed to get sweaty, bloody, dirty, and exhausted and usually all on the same day. Slowly but surely we have made the garden ours. My dreams of a wild English style perennial garden has finally come to fruition. My roses have taken hold and our flourishing. Wild and beautifully rampant Russian Sage fills in spaces and adds to the back drop. We have planted what I have a sneaking suspicion will be a HUGE edible garden along with a couple thriving blueberry bushes.

But you see, her garden is still there. Intermingled with our efforts are the result of work done perhaps decades ago. Not long after we bought this house, during the early attempts when we were pretty much just flailing out there, her daughter drove her by her old home. It came to me through the proverbial small town grapevine that she was pleased a young, energetic couple had bought her home and was taking care of it. That truly touched me and drove me to salvage what we could.

This is what we have saved.

These irises were bound mess. They were maybe producing five blooms because the rhizomes were so grown together. After years of determined care, nurturing, and possibly some strong frustrations, this is the result.

We didn't even know what this bush was. It was a mess. Many times we considered just ripping it out and starting over. We persevered and here is the result.

I find it beautifully symbolic to have this glorious Bridal Lace in my back yard. She came here as a new bride and so did I. There is a connections that binds us, strangers, in place and time.

I think we all want a legacy. We want to be remembered and know our work will have lasting effects. For my personal story, I have learned I can only do my best and let the rest come about in its own way and in its own time. But I can continue her legacy. She has now passed away but her work from long ago lives on in my garden.

This is my thank you to her. She provided the home filled with warmth and comfort in which I now raise my children. We make memories in the structure she and her husband created. She provided me with an amazing backdrop and palette to work with each day. I never knew her. I hear she was a lovely woman. I think one of the best things I can do in my life is to make sure her legacy lives on.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just Enough

This was written just before we left on vacation last week. I will tell you, this worked wonders. I have never arrived or returned from a vacation more relaxed or refreshed than I did this time. 

We are preparing to go on family vacation this week. It is, for all practically intents and purposes, the first destination vacation without visiting family. We need it. We need the break with just us. Time to relax, reconnect, and just enjoy our family. I think I have my expectations under control. Another positive of living in the right now, my mind isn't off creating fantasies we can never actually create.

But this week could be the downfall of the whole thing if I let it. It is quite possible. I could stress myself out trying to prepare for our vacation. I could have myself so tied up in knots that I will have to use my vacation to decompress for self imposed stress rather than taking a much needed respite from daily life, It is of the utmost importance I do not do it. Therefore I choose to practice "just enough" this week.

I will do just enough each day to enable us to leave smoothly. I will do just enough this week to get us out the door and off to family fun. This is not the time to clean the house from top to bottom. The de-cluttering projects can wait until we return. I love coming home to an organized house but there will be time for that later. Each day I will straighten a little and pack a a smidge each day. We have chosen to buy our food when we arrive rather than trying to guess our needs.

I am attempting to streamline what is needed for the four of us. Instead of preparing for every situation, I think I going to pack light and hope for the best. I can always buy something if we need it.

As the children grow older, we hope to travel more an more. I hope to travel with them by myself. We obviously would like these trips to be memorable for the amazing memories rather than how badly mommy melted down trying to get ready. For the sake of peaceful travelling, I am learning to practice "just enough".

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Journey Thus Far

This picture represents the past four years of my journey.

A little over four years ago I gave birth to my son. Even though I had started to make some good changes in my life I was still uncomfortably heavy for my size, rather out of shape, and not very healthy overall. I fought with insecurity, I didn't trust myself or my inner voice, my mind raced, and I worried about what people thought of me, a lot.

A few days after we came home from the hospital I looked into the mirror and said, "Enough is enough." I was not going to slide into my forties fighting the same battles.

Oh the difference of four years.

It has been hard journey. My youngest was sick with acid re-flux and screamed so much for the first 15 months of life. I didn't sleep more than four hours at any given time for the first two years. Despite all my hard work the scale and my body refused to budge for multiple months at a time. But I persevered one day at a time. One step at a time.

Here are a few of things this picture represents in a rather random order:

1. I let go of traditional expectations. I stopped giving a damn of what others thought of me and my choices and decided to listen to my own inner wisdom. My own inner wisdom and intuition is amazing. If I am willing to quiet my mind and listen, it rarely leads me wrong.

2. I started to pursue an active yoga and meditation practice. This step was more important than I can express. Using these two in conjunction imparts a flexibility of both mind and body that continues to astound me. This is what stopped my mind racing. Meditation has enabled me to be in control of my thoughts, emotions, and therefore actions rather than being at their mercy. Many of the positive changes in my life direct stem from these practices.

3.Warrior spirit. This is huge for me. I know now that my strength of spirit and determination is mighty. I know I have the ability to accomplish what I seek to do. During the time of my son's sickness I trained and ran a half marathon. I then nursed my infant son as soon I came off the course. Later I trained and ran a full marathon. After an epic fall, I finished the race a bloody mess. I will tell you, both of these experiences made me realize I was bad ass warrior under my cute, effervescent exterior. Love this.

4. During this time I learned the importance of loving myself. I worked so hard at these goals. I learned so much about myself and what encouraged and inspired me. Sometime in the process I began to fall in love with myself. I found I have great love and respect for my mind, body, and spirit. I see the beauty of me in the mirror. I stopped criticizing myself and started practice affirmation and self love. I am now just in awe of my life, myself, and this journey. I have found it to be true, if you love yourself deeply and unconditionally it will enable you to love others more deeply and unconditionally.

5. Patience and love myself has definitely translated how I deal with my children. I have so much more grace, love, and understanding for them. That is of utmost importance.

6. After some really hard times my husband and I have emerged out the other side better for the experience. It did not drive us apart. We were there together through every step of survival, every day of sleep deprivation, and every moment of desperation and not knowing what to do. We are stronger and closer than ever. It was so hard but it was easier with my best friend by my side.

7. I discovered moderation doesn't work for me. I finally ditched that ever present idea in our society and went completely plant based. I have never felt better in my life. I have never looked better in my life. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

8. My newest leg of this journey, finding my tribe and celebrating and nurturing my relationships with my precious sister friends. To be blunt I never really put much faith in to most relationships with women. I found them to be shallow, gossipy, and too fond of betrayal. When you get what you put out, know what I mean? Now I put out completely different vibes and energies and the results are spectacular. I am finding the most beautiful, honest, and caring women are coming into my life. It is such an honor to be their friend and stand witness to their experience of life.

Ultimately this whole thing comes down to desiring and pursuing a life of authenticity and true love. That is what it comes down to for me. That is what is truly important. I am so glad I looked in the mirror and decided to change my path and my approach to life. In that picture I am 41 years old and my eyes see an amazing future unfolding.

May harmony find you.