Monday, January 7, 2019

You will be Found

Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?

Like you could fall, and no one would hear?
I find I am having trouble starting this post. Perhaps it is because I am out of practice, looking back my January post last year was my only one. I think, it is a good thing - it means that I am through some of the I'm-a-mom-of-young-children-and-need-to-vent-and-to-know-I-am-not-alone-itus.  

It's a thing, look it up.

It means that my time and energy last year went more towards things that can be submitted to editors, that my focus was more on the creative aspect of writing instead of simple stream of conscience.  (Not that there is anything wrong with stream of conscience, it just doesn't sell so well in the children's picture book industry.)

But I think I am also having trouble because 2018 was a year of chaos for so many of those that I love.  Hearts were wrenched apart, worlds were capsized, tears were shed and lives were unraveled, and so it feels weird to look back on my own year and feel peace.  It feels....wrong. 

Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there's a reason to believe you'll be okay
'Cause when you don't feel strong enough to stand

You can reach, reach out your hand

And oh, someone will come running
And I know, they'll take you home

In 2018, I think I was more me than I ever have been.  As I looked back at my January 2018 Post I could see that sparking, and I think it has carried into this year. 

Perhaps reflecting a bit will help...sometimes the process of writing helps the stream of conscience become clear, readable, reliable.

Last year I had 3 goals, resolutions if you will:

1. Do more to love humanity, whether that is in the physical sense or thmetaphorical. Humans need caring for, whether it is ourselves or those around us.  I want to do better caring for the humans in this world. 

I am not sure I achieved this goal as much as I had hoped too.  But then, I think that is a good attitude to have on it all.  If I was looking back over my year saying "yes, yes I am satisfied with how humanity has been cared for over the past year." then I would be missing the point, not to mention I would be dead wrong. I think I have broken the surface of this resolution, and I hope to continue.  But perhaps this year I will add an addendum: I would like to include my children more in learning how to care for humanity, those outside of our circle of comfort.  I am not sure what that looks like yet, but it feels worth learning.

2. I would like to end 2018 in the best shape of my life.  

Ah, I remember.  This felt huge, it felt bigger than me.  This promise was scary, I knew it would hurt.  It was overwhelming and way more then I had to energy to do.  It was scary and outside of every comfort zone.  I had excuses - after all, I have a medical condition that makes me so very, very tired all of the time. Because of it, I cannot lose weight as easily as "normal" humans. If I exhaust myself, there is nothing left of me to give my children, no more spoons. If I am too sore, then I cannot be the best of me for them. I have to start slow, right? Work up to being in shape. I have never been athletic, I just don't have the history for it, I don't have strong joints, I will hurt myself and end up in worse shape than I already am. I don't have time to add in an exercise class, mornings I have to spend writing and then by the time evening come I just don't have it in me. What will people think if I start something and can't even finish the warm-up? That is so embarrassing!  I should start on my own and work up to it....




And I fucking did it!

I joined the (cult?) that is cross-fit exactly one year ago, and for the first time in my life, I feel strong! The freedom, the empowerment, the confidence, it makes me want to cry with joy.  It feeds into a part of me that I didn't even know was starving. 

I have come to realize, that through my life, there has been a fear of feeling pain - whether it was physical pain or physiological pain. I am not sure exactly why or where this fear came from. But I have missed out on so many things because at the root of it all, I was afraid I would hurt myself. Pain was bad, VERY bad, and was to be avoided at all cost. When something hurt, life often stopped until the hurt was better. I didn't trust myself to be strong enough. The pain became the focus, healing the pain was always the goal. In my mind, no good could ever come from pain, and so I was careful, careful about so many things.  I thought protecting myself from all pain was how to take care of myself... I was wrong.

Now, I live most of my life in pain; something is always hurting, something is always sore. Sometimes it hurts so bad I can barely walk, and I swear the stairs are plotting against me! But the pain has purpose, it is making me stronger.  I cannot put into words how amazing it feels. And every time I see my numbers go up, when I break my own records, when I finish faster, when I lift heavier, when I recover faster - I feel victorious.  The pain is not in charge anymore.  This I think has spilled into other factors of my life as well.  I have dealt with some interpersonal and psychological pain points this year, because the pain is not as scary as it used to be, the pain has purpose, and so I become stronger.

Over the summer of last year, I took a good long look at my diet, and switched to eating just meats, veggies and LOTS of good fat. I lost almost 30lbs in 4 months. I went from a size 14 to a size 8.  I was floored how much better I felt with the addition of fat, how much better my brain worked. No other diet had ever been this effective - and so doable.  I wasn't strict KETO, but that was what I was drawing from.  I have kept the weight off, and plan on falling back on that eating plan whenever I feel the need to get back to basics.  I feel in control, like I never have before - and it is freeing.

So yes.  This resolution I feel I 100% achieved.  I absolutely ended 2018 in the best shape I have ever been in in my life, both physically and mentally.  I plan to continue it.

By 2020 I think I would like to be able to do a push-up.  A really real push-up, maybe even 2 in a row!

3. Buy a new book whenever I am in need of something new and exciting to read. 

I just bought a new one yesterday!  I have spent hours reading this year, though I do need to get better about wearing my reading glasses. My eyes are getting old, they are no longer as reliable as they used to be. Perhaps that should be my new resolution? Wear my reading glasses more.  Oh what have I become!

This year, I think my resolutions will be more abstract. For myself, I don't want to go backwards, I don't want to fear the pain, I don't want to lose what I have achieved, but it's more than that.

I want to read out-loud. I want to say the wrong thing. I want to go on walks without saving any energy for the way home. I want to try new foods, and listen to new music.  I want to talk about colors that don't exist and dreams that are un-achievable.  I want to drive without a timeline or a destination and see where we end up.  I want to sing too loud, talk too much or not at all, believe in impossible things and then make them a reality. I want to laugh so hard I pee a little.  I want to climb trees and howl at the moon. I want to simply be, no expectations, no guilt, no shame, just be.

I want to buy breakfast for those that have had a hard day, week, month, year and just listen, making sure that the coffee never runs out.  I can't do a lot, but I can do that.

I want to be a shelter to others within the storm.  I can't calm the storm, but I can offer you an umbrella, for just a moment.

I want to be the hand that reaches out, the place others can feel safe, to know that they are not alone. I can't make the fear go away, but I can laugh in its face with you - whether we should or not!

I want to laugh and cry with those that can't figure out what will help the most, and so they do both - often at the same time.  I can't heal the pain, but I can make sure you are not lonely in the midst of it.

I want to run on the sand until we are both so out of breath we collapse, laughing at the absurdity of it all.  (I don't want to go in the ocean though, its cold. Unless you REALLY need me to go into the ocean with you. Then I will, but I will whine a little bit.)

I want to stay up way too late, probably drinking a little too much - because that is when things get real.  I can't put the tattered pieces back together.  But I can talk about the hard stuff, the things that we don't usually like to talk about, because it shows our humanity a little too much.  I can be human with you.

I want to be with you in the doubt, in the fear, in the confusion. Because those are lonely places, and no one should be alone.

I want to be the oasis in the dessert, a place where you can breath, for just a moment.

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you're broken on the ground

You will be found

Four years ago I was in a very broken and tattered place. I felt very lost, life was chaotic -  Often it felt like in the course of a day, my heart could be wrenched apart, my world would capsize, tears were shed and it felt as if my life was continually unraveling. I often felt very alone. 

So let the sun come streaming in
'Cause you'll reach up and you'll rise again
Lift your head and look around

You will be found

Today I feel strong, I feel foolish, I am more me than I have ever been. I feel peaceful.

There's a place where we don't have to feel unknown
And every time that you call out
You're a little less alone
If you only say the word
From across the silence

Your voice is heard

Tomorrow it is possible that everything could fall apart again, I am not so arrogant as to believe that this peace will last forever.  Trauma rarely gives warning, but for the moment, for this exact moment - my world is calm.  In this moment, I can hold the hand of those that cannot stand on their own, as they were there for me when I was in the storm, as they will be there for me again.

It's so easy to feel alone, but we're not alone, none of us.

None of us are alone

Out of the shadows
The morning is breaking
And all is new, all is new
It's filling up the empty
And suddenly I see that
All is new, all is new
You are not alone

You are not alone

You are not alone

You are not alone

                                                                                          - Dear Evan Hanson

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Show me that you're human

Like a thief in the light, you can't hide, you can't hide 
from your shadow, It's the only thing you own

And you don't need to pretend, that perfection is your friend
'Cause we're all broken. We all end up alone


I just looked through my posts from last year and I guess I never wrote a January resolution list for 2017. That's ok, 2017 was a weird year and likely I needed to take it one day at a time. I often had daily resolutions like "survive until bedtime" and "drink all the coffee you need" and I am happy to look back and see that I successfully kept both! 

I started 2017 dealing with some pretty severe anxiety, depression and just some weird emotional crap that felt new and big and overwhelming.  I attempted to see a therapist which was a complete disaster, but lead to my own personal journey of self research and discovery, which was a very good thing. (I'm not knocking therapy, I think it's brilliant and just about everyone could benefit from it, I just happened to get a therapist that had no clue what to do with me.) I have learned more about myself in the last 12 months, than perhaps in the past 12 years put together. Good things, growing things.  

I only officially posted on this blog 3 times last year, but there are pages and pages of writing that was just for me.  Someday I may share some of it, when I am older and more foolish than I am now. 

I ended 2017 with the world literally burning about me, and started 2018 with the same burn-scarred world dangerously flooded in water and mud -  and yet, I somehow feel more peaceful and content than I ever have before.

Perhaps it was me working my way through a mid-life crises, we all get at least one of those right? Perhaps it was simple growing pains - I officially entered fully into my new life last year, as all my kids entered school full time and I was left home to wonder what my purpose was now that I was not really needed for the majority of any given day. I never really got to do that in my twenties. I went from home, to school, to working to keep my head above water, to motherhood - all with no break...until now.  I suppose all that is not unusual and may even be more common than not, so perhaps having a bit of a mid-life crisis in your mid-thirties is not so unusual either. 

Show me that you're human, you won't break
Oh love your flaws and live for your mistakes
Beauty's on the surface wearing thin
Come closer show the marks upon your skin
Show me that you're human

Show me that you're human

I have slowly re-learned how to do this writing thing, not just as a hobby, frantically finding stolen moments, or simply just for fun. But as an obligation, as a job that I am responsible for and if I want to see results, I have to put in real sweat-and-blood work.  I also have had to accept in my own way, that regardless of how much work I put in, I could make it through an entire year with zero "yes" responses, and it does not mean I have failed. That can be a hard one to swallow.

You're a spark without flame
I'm a desert in the rain,
You're a mountain and I'm a stepping stone
So walk away from your pride
It's a demon is disguise
And it won't help you to calm the swelling tide

I bought a new house in 2017, one that feels more like home than anywhere else I have ever lived. A peaceful house, a happy house. Just around the block is an amazing walking path that helps me be motivated to exercise (I even canceled my gym membership because I so preferred walking and running outdoors instead of fighting for a place at a crowded gym, that it wasn't being used.) 

Today, I am sitting in my own office as I write, drinking a cup of tea and watching the rain out of my window. This is home. I keep waiting for the excitement and newness of it all to wear off...but even with frustrations of home-ownership, unexpected expenses and broken things, I still love it. Sometimes we need something to break so we can appreciate the beauty of that which is whole and healthy

I am learning to love myself better - both the healthy and the broken. I have never struggled with "low self esteem" as a general rule, but I have never had a natural filter and I have always been clumsy, so growing up it was the family joke that everyone was just waiting, terrified to hear what I would do or say next that would result in calamity. I always knew when I had said something wrong, but rarely did I know what that wrong thing was, apparently that was something I was just supposed to know naturally. (Unfortunately I was skipped-over when normal social grace was handed out.). 

                                              Show me that you're human, you won't break
Oh love your flaws and live for your mistakes
And beauty's on the surface wearing thin
Come closer show the marks upon your skin
Show me that you're human

By not knowing or understanding what wrong thing I had said or done, why it was not acceptable, (and why everyone was looking at me in horror and embarrassment) I was doomed to repeat it. This made me grow up fearing myself and feeling like everything I said, did, thought, wanted, believed was always wrong. So I attempted to compensate by researching, reading and learning everything I could. Unfortunately this resulted in everyone telling me I was being a show-off, a know-it-all, and great joy and celebration was had every time I failed, was proven wrong, or even when I simply could not prove myself to be right...

I have learned to love my awkwardness, and I finally did gain at least a basic understanding of normal social expectations.  

But I still don't always understand people.  

I still don't understand why they do what they do, what actions will result in what re-actions. I don't understand the script, my part doesn't seem to match. Perhaps everyone feels this way in some way, shape, or form?  I'm not sure if that makes things better or worse. 

But even without understanding people - I am constantly surprised, delighted and always, always fascinated by humanity.  It is raw, unfiltered and clumsy. It is constantly saying and doing the wrong thing. It rarely understands why things went wrong and because of this, so often, it is doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. 

Perhaps I have a little too much humanity?

All that to say - this has been a very human year. But even with all the blunders, this year has been one of the first years in my memory where I am no longer trying to fit what society seems to expect of me (mistakenly perceived as those expectations may be). While at the same time, I am not over-compensating by being "the weird one" on purpose.

To put it simply: I'm fresh out.

 And it is freeing! 

Show me that you're human, you wont break, 
Oh love your flaws and live for your mistakes
And beauty's on the surface wearing thin
Come closer show the marks upon your skin
Show me that you're human

If I want to be alone for weeks at a time, seeing no one but my husband and children - letting my books and my characters be my friends and confidants, that is ok. It doesn't mean there is something wrong with me, I just need that time to explore and create. Sometimes I have to silence the world around me in order to hear what is not being said. 

Sometimes, it is just needed for sanity and recovery from all the human-ness.

If I want to fill my schedule as full as it can be with social gatherings and coffee dates. Calling loved ones on the phone and chatting for hours, taking the kids to museums and parks, learning new things and meeting new people, taking a break from my literary creations and letting them smolder and form without my constant supervision, that is ok too. 

And... sometimes, it is needed for sanity and recovery from all the human-ness. 

I do want to actively ponder some new year resolutions for 2018. Perhaps I will focus this year on being more human and most certainly, more foolish.  

Resolutions for 2018

1. Do more to love humanity, whether that is in the physical sense or the metaphorical. Humans need caring for, whether it is ourselves or those around us.  I want to do better caring for the humans in this world. 

2. I would like to end 2018 in the best shape of my life.  

I will be going for a run down my glorious walking path as soon as this post is finished (the rain has stopped and the sun is out, my world has been washed clean and I want to be in it). I am also thinking of trying cross-fit or something similar.  I am not ashamed to admit I am scared and intimidated at the thought of trying something new like that, especially having no clue where to start.  But I am also excited at the possibilities. 

3. Buy a new book whenever I am in need of something new and exciting to read. 

We all need at least one resolution we want to keep.  And this past year I have found again my love of reading (now that kids are old enough to be trusted unsupervised, as I lock myself in my room for hours on a Saturday afternoon). 

I think that is enough.  3 resolutions I plan to keep. Specific enough to not be a cop-out (I hope) but vague enough for some wiggle-room. 

I am learning to love my humanity.  I think it is something that has always scared me for some reason, as if being human is a weakness I need to rise above. Unfortunately that attitude also lends itself to a complete lack of grace when those around me also inevitably act out on their own human-ness.  

Show me that you're human
Oh love your flaws and live for your mistakes
And beauty's on the surface wearing thin
Come closer show the marks upon your skin
Show me that you're human

                                                                                     Human, Gabrielle Aplin

Oh, and by the way if you have not heard that song I highly recommend it.  It is beautiful. 

And for those of you, who like me, have felt unusually human lately, I will end with this:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Life is Wonderful

It takes a crane to build a crane
It takes two floors to make a story
It takes an egg to make a hen
It takes a hen to make an egg
There is no end to what I'm saying

I spent some time recently reading some of my old posts, do you know that I have almost 200 of them?  My first ever post on this blog was in August of 2009.  Since then life has twisted and turned, morphing between starts and ends and all the in-between.  I've gone from life with a baby and a toddler to having a child in middle school and two others not far behind. 

There are times that I feel old, so much older than I should.  I know I may look back on that phrase someday and laugh at how foolish I sound, but I hope that I can at least appreciate that it was my way to label a feeling that otherwise would have no name, and that if it does not end up resembling what it feels like to truly be old, that does not take away from the here and the now. 

Other days I feel so very, very young. Way to young to have a child that is on the cusp of teenage-hood and two others close behind.  Far to young to own a house, two cars and sensible shoes. Far to young to be the one in charge of so very much...but on the other hand, I can do it and I do it well, so perhaps I am not so young after all? 

I do find that I rebel against being a grown-up in odd ways, for instance if you visit my house, I highly recommend that you read the magazines in my guest bathroom. I promise, you wont be disappointed.  I also may have partially bought this house just because it had a hidden room under the stairs, all the best houses do you know.

When I was a teenager, I was often told that I was wise for my age, that I had things more together than other kids my age (whatever that means), that I viewed the world a little more realistically - and I took that to heart. It was incorrect of course, but I still molded it into my identity and flaunted my superior knowledge of the world and all its ways. 

It takes a thought to make a word
And it takes some words to make an action

It takes some work to make it work
It takes some good to make it hurt
It takes some bad for satisfaction

I had kids way before most of my friends, so through my twenties I was the one to call with questions of tiny kids and the ways of sleepless nights and toddler tantrums; not because I knew anything special, but simply because I was a few years ahead of most of those around me and tended to read books and research methods until I was blue in the face.  I was honest in my struggles and was able to string a bunch of words together in a way that was interesting to read, and so I was praised for my motherly wisdom and I accepted that. I wrapped it into who I was, because honestly if I did not throw myself wholly into the whole mother-of-small-children thing, I would not have survived it.

It is funny how this whole age things works.I have been praised for my wisdom at various points in my life, and now as I look back fondly on it all -  I can only laugh at how truly foolish I was through it all.  I feel right now that I am at the cusp of realizing the depth of my foolishness, and oh it is freeing! 35 feels very middle in many ways, perhaps it is the whole "two-score and ten" thing - and I am about to arrive at the very middle of being 35.  I wonder, if the accumulation of wisdom will reverse itself now? 

I started as a teen, convinced I truly was smarter than everyone else around me.  As time passed, I grew more and more into the knowledge that I was foolish, and now at 35, I feel perhaps the least wise I have ever been, and I am truly happier and more at peace than I have ever been. So once I have passed 35, will I slowly start to collect actual real wisdom until eventually I can honestly call myself wise?  Or will the knowledge of my own foolishness continue to grow until that, in and of itself, creates one who is humble, willing to learn from every being I come across until finally, once I am truly secure in all that I do not know, I will finally begin to understand knowledge?

It takes a night to make it dawn
And it takes a day to make you yawn brother
And it takes some old to make you young
It takes some cold to know the sun
It takes the one to have the other

I went for a walk yesterday, I shouldn't have, it was foolish - but the outdoors called me in a way I could not resist. The wind was blowing, hard.  I think we topped out at around 50-60mph.  The sky was a haze of dust, the ground was littered with fallen branches and leaves. The trees, old and gnarled were being torn to pieces and I was called irresistibly into the midst of it. 

It was not wise to go for a walk in a wind, but I have braved trees falling down about me before and lived to tell the tale.  Twice while I was out walking, I was driven into the street by my own survival instinct, as the wind tore into the branches of the massive trees above me. 

This wind was a mad wind, there was no discernible pattern, no predictability.  It would die out for a moment, leaving the world eerily still, only to whip up in a frenzy, ripping leaves from branches and forcing the un-prepared to cover their eyes and face to avoid being swept up in the midst of it all.

I walked for over 3 miles.  I felt like I was in a dream, the wind was alive, perhaps even more so than I was.  It was alive and it was not tame, it did not care for my well-being or my comfort. It would blow where it willed and all that was in the way would pay the price.  The world has different rules in the wind, and I think that all living things can sense that.  Crows would not run away as I walked by, but would simply cock their heads and watch me. I saw lizards, buzzards, birds and bugs and found myself almost expecting them to speak, perhaps they felt the same way about me? Somehow we all knew that the rules were different in the wind.

I saw only two other humans on the whole path, a way that is usually speckled with dog walkers, mothers with strollers and retired folks taking a leisurely morning stroll.  One person, I saw early was walking two small dogs and wrapped up against the wind as tight as they could be, wearing a dust mask over their mouth and nose.  They waved sheepishly as I walked past, muttering something about the outfit likely being overkill.

The second person I saw twice, once on my way there and then again as I walked back.  They gave me a nod as we passed both times, a moment of eye contact that said "ah! So you too were called into the wind." They were a stranger, but our souls seemed to recognize one another.  We were both foolishly walking in the wind after all, no truly wise person does that.

Several times as I walked I was stopped in my tracks at the beauty and the wildness of the world. There were patterns, textures, colors that I had never seen before.  I must have sat in awe for a full five minutes, not moving and watching the pepper field below my walking path sparkle in the sun and the wind, leaves pulled back and forth creating a beautiful chaos of light and color.

And it takes no time to fall in love
But it takes you years to know what love is
It takes some fears to make you trust
It takes those tears to make it rust
It takes the dust to have it polished

Once upon a time, I was a wise person.  I don't think I am anymore.  But, perhaps for the first time in my adult life, I am at peace. I can see the value of insanity, the wisdom of being foolish, I recognize the deep beauty in the dust covered trees.  I love the quiet, the solitude that I once feared and even hated, has become a close and personal friend.

It takes some silence to make sound
It takes a loss before you found it
And it takes a road to go nowhere
It takes a toll to make you care
It takes a hole to make a mountain

I hope I become more foolish as I age. I think we could all do with a little more foolishness every so often.  Because, you see - there are different rules in the wind, it sweeps a weary soul clean of dust and cobwebs. We could all use a good soul sweeping now and again.

Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ha la la la la la life is wonderful
Ha la la la la la life is meaningful
Ha la la la la la life is wonderful
Ha la la la la la life it wonderful

It is so meaningful
It is so wonderful
It is meaningful
It is wonderful
It is meaningful
It goes full circle
Full circle...
                                    - Jason Mras