Tuesday, January 31, 2012

saying hello to change.


There's a shift happening.  A firm wind is blowing.  I can feel it swirling around me.  A shudder of anticipation mixed with fear shakes me.  Change.  It's staring me in the face and I cannot look away.  No matter how desperately I wish that I could.

I love change.  The way most of us do.  When it's happening to anyone else.  Unless, your shift effects my life, then let's be frank, not such a fan.

Even good change takes work.  Settling in, learning a new way.  Forming different habits.  I am a creature of habit.  Truly.  When I wake up, I want to stumble half blind to the kitchen where I brew a big cup of coffee and spend the next hour shooing my kids away.  This is not fully realistic.  In actuality I have to carry two growing children down the stairs, make them breakfast, get them settled, then have my coffee.  Which at this point I typically feel I deserve, and to enjoy it without having balls thrown at my head.

Have you ever been committed to something, to the point that even when it's causing you pain you'll continue?  There have been many harmful things in my life, that I've struggled to walk away from.  I have to say, the biggest for me swirls around food.  I LOVE junk food.  I can barely make it out of the grocery store without raiding the candy next to the checkout.  I'll fill up on ice cream then moan on the couch.  My poor husband often wonders why I continue when it makes me so sick.  I guess the truth is that it wasn't making me sick enough.  Until lately.

Suddenly, or maybe it's been getting worse the last few months, or years, my kidneys ache, my body can barely function, I'm crippled with exhaustion, my skin is broken out, and now if I even touch wheat my stomach cramps for hours.  sigh.

You know how people can be too educated?  This is one of those areas that I knew too much, but didn't want to change my diet.  I knew that how I ate was hurting me, but I just didn't care.  I could eat junk without gaining weight and while I frowned at my complexion I wasn't motivated by it.

My mom is a health food nut.  Though her education in food and vitamins and minerals stemmed from a need to heal herself, she raised us knowing how to protect and care for our bodies.   I hit 18, bought a couple spray cans of whipped cream, some coke, a few snickers and ate myself silly.  As, I have continued for the last 11 years.

Since having children, I am much more careful about eating junk food and prefer the closet approach to letting my kids in on my binge.  There've been some moments as an adult that my family has been g/f, s/f, and d/f, but after a few months of clean living and even feeling amazing I've found myself returning to my old habits.    Mainly because I haven't seen (or felt) the absolute value and necessity in it, until recently.  As I feel the pain from every bite so distinctly, I'm losing all desire to continue in my ways.

For a long time it was just about restriction.  How, I was never going to eat such and such foods again, usually after a late night ice cream feast.  This is more of a plan on what I will eat.  How I'm going to do things differently.  Carefully choosing how I'll nourish my body and the growing bodies around my table.

And so change blows itself through the door of my house and we square off in the kitchen.  I can feel the fear of failure, the sense that it's going to be harder than I realize.  I could just give up, but that option is no longer on the table.  I want to have complete health, I want to be the best version of myself, I want to live long, because this life is no longer about me.

I thought I'd share with all of you, as I will probably be posting more about this new adventure.  I'm scared.  But, I'm more desperate than I've ever been and that's exciting.

Welcoming change.  It's a deep breath.  A shift that has to happen.  A blank page of adventure.

Blessings.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nothing lasts forever. Nothing ever could.


My children are resting.   One to sleep and dreams, the comfort of peace.  Another, pursuing the imaginative journeys of a small boy with his books.  It's a grey day.  There's a slight drizzle that brings the earth and it's lush scents to life.  I can stay right here in this place.  This is a perfect moment.  My children are safe, they are secure.  We are warm.  We are fed.  We feasted on hot nourishing muffins and rich cups of tea.  We are abandoned to our good fortune, licking it up like spoiled cats their warmed cream.

I can feel the clenching of my hands.  My fingers tightening their grip, even as this is slipping away.  Each key stroke marks the clock, as minutes tick tock by.  Before I'm quite prepared, little bodies will throw themselves at me.  Awake is like a shock of water thrown on an unsuspecting victim.  One minute quiet, the next shrieks of joy and laughter.  I could not tell you which I prefer.  Only, that in the stillness I can linger.  Here, they are young forever.  Here, I am just a mother.  Here in this place, we will never age.

When the silence is broken, we must advance.  Each to their tasks, me the parent, the chef, the referee, the tickle monster, the teacher, the reminder of truth.  They to pull every piece of the house and their world into imagination, to be taught, to be kind, to play as hard as they can until they fall exhausted into their beds.  Before I'm ready this day will be finished.  I'll pull together the chores saved for solitude.  I'll kiss little cheeks, knowing that one day they'll be grown.  I'll pause a moment to rub my nose against the perfectly smooth, round cherub face with their bow mouths and lengths of lash.  I'll sweep some hair to the side.  I'll pull up the blankets.  Then I'll flick the last light and this scene will be filled with darkness.  And each of us will grow in the night.



Tomorrow we will be one day older.  One more day of change.  It will never be the same as today.  Tomorrow we will all have grown up.  But, I'll cherish the quiet.  The moments.  The peace.  So thankful for the overwhelming blessings of today.  I'll put off a little longer, until I wake and it's upon me, the moment they are gone.  When goodnight is to an empty house ringing of voices and cheer.  The echo of life that grew up here.



But somewhere in my youth, or childhood. I MUST have done something GOOD.

(Sound of Music)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To all lost in life.


Sometimes, the world stands against us.

Sometimes, fear stares in our face.

Sometimes, we stand against ourselves.

Sometimes, dreams aren't worth living for.

Sometimes, life is hell.

Sometimes, all we can do is cry.

Sometimes, we want to give up.

BUT.


Always, God is for us.

Always, heaven is waiting to invade earth.

Always, there is hope.

Always, life is worth living.

Always, truth remains.

Always, peace can be had.

Always, after mourning there is joy.

In the middle of chaos, in the middle of despair there is a battle that is being fought.  It is bigger than what we can see.  We can find ourselves swept away in the ripple effect of life, wondering how we can even begin to stand.  Depression, fear, hopelessness can loom bigger than truth.

Truth doesn't come in the torrent.  It doesn't come in the whirlwind.  It is in the still small voice.  It is in choosing to believe that whatever pain, whatever overwhelms, it is temporary.  You can sustain.  You can hope.  You can look to tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.

Your dreams are important.  You are valuable.  You have purpose.  Destiny.  Hope.

Right where you are, you are okay.

Peace to you.  and when you can receive it, Joy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lounging.




Do you ever notice that it takes you a little while to settle back to life after being away from home?  

I definitely don't fall right back into rhythm.  

I lounge around, with half emptied suitcases, a rug that needs to be vacuumed, beds that need to be made, but the dishes, those will be clean.  

If we didn't constantly travel, this may not be so annoying.  Considering that on average we're out of town 2 weekends a month, I am feeling a little lazy.  

I don't usually have a lot of room or grace for laziness.  It drives me crazy and stresses me out.  I'm not typically someone  who can nap, because my brain doesn't shut off.  

Yet, in the last year that we've lived here and the demands on my time have dwindled, to, well, none.  I find I indulge a little in lying on the couch with tasks that are waiting to be accomplished.  

It's interesting how committed we become to the things that drive us.  The need to perform.  Our concern with how we're perceived.  

Then, overtime, we find it being worn away. 

I don't really want to be lazy.  I don't want to lounge.  

I want to be demanded and busy.  I want to list my accomplishments.

That's just not where we are right now.  We're resting.  I think we're growing.  

I'm learning that when nothing's going my way and my triumph for the day is making dinner, I'm still okay.

In fact right here, where we are.  We're good.  We're blessed.  We're filled with joy.

May your day be as well.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Train up your child.


It would be nice if there were a perfect formula for parenting.  A nice patented book that told you what to expect when and what the appropriate response/action would be.  

I would title it: How to raise perfect children following A through Z.

It would have lots of always do this and never do that.  If there were exceptions they would be very carefully itemized with complete outlines so that you were always able to follow the appropriate guidelines. 

This would help when your child gets down 25 times from the table and then throws food or spits bites all over you.

It could be used when your 4 year old thinks that the television is the only thing in the world they should play with.

Necessary when your child seems to prefer peeing on the floor than the toilet.

Or when your two year old slaps you in the face after smashing a play laptop over your four year olds head.                   
                                   (these are just random ideas, I don't know anyone who's kids would do the above)
                                     
A book.  That could outline exactly what training and discipline would be most effective and universal for all children.


That's the thing, isn't it.  Not all children are the same.  They each respond differently to communication.  One child may be heartbroken at a stern look, while another child could tell you the spanking didn't hurt.  

We have tried countless forms of training, discipline, etc and sometimes still shake our heads and really wonder if any of it works.  

It does.

I know that it does.  Even when I want to throw my hands in the air and run away, I know that I am being effective.  

Training takes consistency.  It takes a lot of work and effort.  It's not easy, but there is a reward.  It will pay off.  

A book would be great.  But, there's something about knowing and understanding your child that takes commitment and focus.  

Parenting can bring you to your knees faster than just about anything.  One moment you can be rocking a screaming child, crying with them, not knowing the answers or how to respond.  The next you can be dancing wildly through the house falling in a heap of laughter.

If I were to write a book for parents I would tell them to trust themselves.  Believe that what they are doing is going to work and affect change.  Everyone will criticize you when you become a parent, your child will have you doubting yourself.  It's a little like being an animal trainer, the only way they'll respect you is if you both believe that you're in charge.  It's the same with kids.  You have to trust yourself and your actions, if you want them to.  

Even when you do your very best, you may feel like you failed.   You didn't.  You are valuable and important.  You are the best choice for your children.  Keep pushing forward.

Let all of the past failures and struggles fall off of you.  Believe in yourself.  Know your mind and your heart.  React in love.  Live in peace.  Be strong, unbreakable.   You will succeed.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Life happens.

Photo by the amazing Heather Armstrong.



I try very hard to be a good mom.  It's important that you realize this, because I didn't plan to be a mom when I became one.  It just happened, like these things do and bam, I was pregnant.

Weird.

I feel like a teenager.

I was so young and I didn't realize.  All of my life I had tried to be older.  This annoyed my friend, because she was very mature and enjoyed every stage of her life.  She was so good at that.  I, on the other hand, lived fully in my future, shunning the rites of passage, because I decided to jump ahead and just live how I wanted, as an adult.  When you are 16 and your parents are not fully aware of you, this is possible, it is not however, a good idea.

When I was 24, I married the most amazing man.  Then all of a sudden, as I was just beginning to grow up, I got pregnant.

Then I grew up really, really fast.  Because if you're having a hard time understanding what it really means to be an adult, nothing will get you there faster than having to work for a demanding infant.  

I was always shocked at the amount of care necessary, it really was a round the clock, full time job.  There were no breaks and less gratitude.  Then because I was in it, we said, hey let's add another to this mix.  Just as it started to get easier, it got harder again.

So I grew.  I grew and I grew and I grew.  

Not in the way that many others are able to.  

Not with my stellar talents and amazing good looks.

Not with my mark left shining through the city.

Not with my degrees.

That was not my path.  I learned, as many do, in my own way.

Through broken hopes and dreams.  

Through setting myself aside.

Through pouring out every bit of me to the lives that needed it.  Then finding more and giving that too.

Through loving my husband, my children more than all I wanted to accomplish.

I let it go.  

I opened my hands and gave them to cleaning bathrooms, making dinner, washing clothes, holding babies when they cried, welcoming my husband after a long days work.  

All that I thought I was and thought would bring me value, flowed like water down the drain.


I think in moments like this, I could say I lost it all.  It's only here, I realize how much I have gained.  I didn't follow the traditional routes and am now working my way back through.  I am growing next to my children as I teach and train them.  

Life doesn't always follow a well charted path.  It dips and curves and bends.  

If you only pursue the end, you'll miss the amazing journey you've had in the process.

I have become a wife and a mother.  I've learned to let go of what I thought was the most important.

I've learned to live in the day and in the moment.  

I've learned to love more deeply and passionately than could be described.  

Here, I can say, I am living my dreams.  It is not in the tomorrows, but in each day.  The holding of my child's hand as we cross the street.  Juggling screaming children through the grocery store.  Learning to ignore the stares and sneers.  Laughing at the judgments oozing from others, because I used to judge.  

My life is not perfect.  I don't have everything I want.  

I do have everything I love.  And that is truly what counts, so you could say, I have it all.

Photo by the amazing Lacy Fontaine. 

So blessed by all of the incredible photographers I know!!  They're talent is extraordinary.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yearning for a Baby.


I have baby fever.  I want one.  Oh I do. I do. I do.

but.


My husband does not.

We have the perfect pair.  Our boy and our girl.  They are both amazing.

but.


It feels like something is missing.

I don't know if we have another baby if that will be filled or if I will just always want to have another.

Life is good right now.  Our baby is 2!  Two is big.  Two can do a lot of things on her own.  Our oldest is 4.  Four is an adult.  He doesn't need me at all.  Maybe he needs me, a little.  Mostly to cuddle.  I am a great cuddler.  It's because I am warm.  Judah likes to tell me he can't sleep without me because his bed is cold and I am the only thing that makes him warm.  I like this.

If we had another I would need a bigger bed.

More babies cost more money.  This is my husbands hiccup.

We have also been doing babies and kids since we got married.  A break would be nice.

but.


I have baby fever.

If we are done having babies then that season is over.  It's a hard season.  When you are in the middle of it, the lack of sleep, the lack of accomplishment, can leave you very empty.

but.


I think that I am more okay with that than ever before.

If we have more kids then the ages get all mixed up.  Right now our kids are pretty much happy to do whatever, with us, with each other.  It's a balanced dynamic.

but.


I have baby fever.




My body aches to carry one more life.  I love being pregnant.  Don't remind me of this when I am pregnant.  I love giving birth.  I really, really want to do this again.  Avi was SO easy.  Labor was cake.  Fine.  Not really, but compared with Judah's, it was definitely cake.  I want another labor like that.

but.


I can be very, very happy with life right now.  I can enjoy the moments.  Appreciate how we are growing.

but.


It will probably always hit, hard and in the gut, this yearning for one more.

but.


I can only wait, until this desire is shared.

for now.


I'll live with baby fever.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Already Passing.

photo by the amazing David Walden.

Quietly it falls, fluttering to the earth.  Leaves drop from the trees, leaving an empty waste of darkened branches slashed against a misted sky.  Winter comes in it's biting cold, vicious in it's brevity, to heighten the intense pleasure that comes at the warming dew of spring.

We can get lost in the winter, the short, lonely days, huddled at home, waiting for the end.  Forgetting that this is only a season, we begin to submerge ourselves in the discouragement of time.  Longing for the moment we can emerge.  To rid ourselves of the weight of coats and layers, to leap through green meadows, breathing the flower scented air.

It will end.  Pain, loneliness, heartbreak, sadness, will end.  They come in their seasons.  They come hard and quick, before you fully realize you're pushed under the weight.  There are times when it can seem to last an eternity.  When you forget who you were, when everything in life was right.  When every day was like music and you danced your way through.

A friend wrote a great post on this.  Charis Scofield.  She has such a way with words, with perspective.  You should read it.  Remind yourself that wherever you find yourself, it is a fleeting moment.

The hard times can be treasured, they enrich who we are.  The interludes of beauty are those that allow us to live out of the depths that life has carved for us.  When we're able to reminisce and enjoy the sweet reprieve that is just a moment away.



Even in winter is joy.  Christmas comes and snow.  Light steals it's way in and refreshing good happens when you're least expecting.  The cardinal comes to rest on the stark branch, the early morning frost turns the world to glass, the smoke curling from a chimney.

Immerse yourself where you are.  Remember it is already passing.  Today will never come again.  Embrace it, fill yourself on it.  Breathe it deep.  Stare at life as you live, wildly abandoned to it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Baring breast.


There have been murmurings in the media, as there are, every so often, about a woman baring breast to feed a hungry infant, in public!  I thought that being a woman, having breasts, having children, having nursed, I should toss my two cents into the pot.

It seems interesting to me that in a society obsessed with sex we should frown on such an act.  I daresay, some would be more comfortable catching a glimpse of a couple engaging in the act of making a child, before they're able to tolerate a woman nourishing one.  This said, because often, while watching a romantic comedy, even as innocent as PG13, you'll be hard pressed to miss a bedroom scene.  There's no need for X ratings if you want to check out bare breasts, they are happily shown to your teens.

And yet a woman uncovering herself to nuzzle in a hungry infant, this is outrageous!  Someone please call the police, there is a child being fed here!  Oh goodness, we are a mess.

We hang posters of naked women barely covered by strips of lace in our malls, allow teenagers to pose provocatively for the camera, then sell the rags by the checkout, and allow our actresses to accept awards while revealing all behind mesh.

Please, stop the nursing mothers, they are taking our country straight to hell!

I wonder how many who carry on about the women caring for their infants, go home to google search daddy loves boobies (porn).  

It is a hypocritical debate and carries very little weight, if you want to know my personal opinion.

Yet, here again, our country finds itself flinging comments across, those who are pro vs. those who find it awkward, embarrassing, shameful.

There is a need to understand the weight that is carried, when a child cries for it's mother.  When you hold a tiny being close, that your body created.  It does not cease to be flesh of your flesh, simply because it was birthed.  Your entire being responds when your child cries.  Your milk flows down in a torrent, protective pads are sold for a reason.  There's an avalanche of milk to combat at the slightest whimper.  Much less, the horrible moment you realize there is no where to go, no quiet place to feed a quickly hysterical child.

Let me just say this now, the bathroom.  Not a viable option.  Next time you want to suggest this to a mother, please go eat your dinner in there, sitting on the open toilet, with half your clothes on the floor.


I realize that in the latest incident the mother was asked to remove herself to a Target dressing room.  And, I get that.  I understand that there are places you can go to nurse that are private, less upsetting to the general public, than a woman sitting on a bench covered with a blanket.

More often than no, there really isn't a better place, than to carefully cover yourself and nurse, where you are.  With my second I would nurse while grocery shopping.  It was only awkward when someone would come and try to pull the blanket aside to see my baby.  I would happily inform them that I was breastfeeding, but they could see if they really wanted.  Okay, I didn't, I just said no.

When you have pushed a life out of your naked body, writhing on a  bed with a handful of men and women watching, you lose a little of your self consciousness.  Then you have men come and watch you nurse and tell you that you're doing it wrong or right and you lose a little more.  It's nice when it's a women, but many of us aren't that lucky.

For the women who have made the choice to breastfeed, many have gone through countless hours and excruciating pain to learn to attach their infant properly.  Unfortunately it's not as easy as lifting them to your nipple and they drink deep.  You have to find the right hold, use shields, put yourself in ridiculous positions, just to encourage your new baby to suck.  Often you can feel like a failure when this doesn't happen right away.

Many babies are able to alter between nursing and bottles and many are not.  My son went on a nursing strike for a while, wanting only to drink from a thick plastic nipple.  So, we took them all away, got him back to only wanting me.  This wasn't an easy process, but nursing your child isn't simple.  It is filled with highs and lows, pain and joy, shame and delight.  If you see a woman nursing her child, leave her alone.  She is doing the very best that she can.  Your issues are very simply your own.

A woman breastfeeding is following the American Academy of Pediatrics and giving her child the best possible nutrition.



Because of the foolishness of many, this issue probably won't just disappear.  As we heighten our awareness and educate ourselves, may this fade where it should, into the rubble of ignorance.