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

Monday, March 27, 2017

For your safety, remain seated with your arms, hands and feet inside at all times, sensitive groups and those with neck or back problems should not ride.

I'm trying very hard to write a post on feminism, and it is not working.  

I have started and deleted it now four times, I simply don't think I'm getting it right.  The words are wrong, the quote doesn't match, it feels weak or unclear. There is a tangled ball of passion inside of me that wants to do this really well, that wants to write a post that will make someone stop and listen...but every time I start, I feel like I am blithering like an idiot. I am terrified that someone will read it and shake their head saying this is a stupid cause, that I am just making a scene, that I should be less sensitive, that everyone is always getting their panties in a bunch about all sorts of ridiculous things these days, we are not special snowflakes, can't we all just learn to be polite and get along, and why am I even bothering when I don't really have anything new or intelligent to say...or even worse they will misunderstand me, be offended and think I am attacking them personally or forever think I am an idiot just because these things are important to me

And so, I am silenced. 

I am silenced because there is a voice in my head that tells me that I am not capable of saying anything worth listening to on this subject. That I am not good at this, that I should leave it to someone else that has more experience, more expertise, more education, more authority. 

But you see, I don't follow instruction very well. So that voice creates in me a movement that forces out the words, clumsy as they may be. THAT is why I must write, because of the voice inside. So I blither, because I truly believe that this is so very important. And that voice, the one that tells me I cannot write well enough for anyone to stop and listen, the voice that says I should just let someone else do it - that voice is the very one that I am fighting against. So I will write, I will un-ravel, one strand at a time. Clumsy as it may be.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a die-hard feminist. In the spirit of full, full disclosure, this is what that means:

Or, in case someone is confused and needs it simplified:

If you are still confused and need it explained again (which is ok, there are a lot of misconceptions out there):

Everyone clear? Good.

Being a Feminist does not mean that I think women are better than men, it means I believe they are equal. 

It does not mean I think men and woman are the same, it means I believe they should be treated equally. 

It does not mean that I think there are no differences between men and women, it means I believe that everyone should have the same opportunities, regardless of gender.  

And again, it does not mean I plan to burn my bra (though I have considered it) it means that I believe that I should not be discriminated against based on the fact that I have breasts.  

It does not mean that I believe all women should be climbing the corporate ladder, it means I believe that if climbing the ladder is something that a woman wants to do, she should be encouraged to do so.  It does not mean that I don't think women should be stay at home moms, it means that if staying at home with kids is something that a woman wants to do, she should be encouraged to do so...see what I did there?

Ok - this is where I get a little passionate, so for your safety, remain seated with your arms, hands and feet inside at all times, sensitive groups and those with neck or back problems may wish to not ride. And if you find yourself disagreeing, I want you to stop for a moment and look up again at the picture posted just above and remember, I will fight just as hard for your right to think differently than me, as I will for my right to think differently than you. THAT is what being a feminist is to me. 

I've been standing at the edge of the water
Long as I can remember
Never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water
No matter how hard I try

See the light where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
No one knows how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know
If I go there's just no telling how far I'll go
- Moana

So I guess you could say this is the real start to my post today - quote and all.

I heard the music for Moana way before I actually saw the movie. Most of that was just lack of good timing on the part of Disney in releasing their movie at a specific point in time that worked with my own personal schedule. It is almost like they don't pay attention to that, can you believe it? They dare to release a movie that I want to see, when I have absolutely no time in my schedule to go and see it! I know, terrible.  

When I first heard this song, it made me stop and listen. Because I understood so very much the feeling behind it. I have very strong memories of standing on the balcony of my house, looking over the edge into our box of a backyard and thinking "this is it. This is all the space I get." We had a great backyard, full of dirt and rocks, very little grass. But I longed for open air and space to run. (One down-side of growing up in Los Angeles, not much running space unless you actually get into the car and go looking for it.) 

As a child I had the amazing opportunity to travel for a weekend (twice) on a small sailboat out to Catalina Island. We ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, laughed at the dolphins racing our little boat, watched the flying fish, collected beautiful shells on a tiny sprig of an island, dipped our feet into the ocean, fell asleep in the sun and adventured to our hearts content. I cannot put into words how amazing it was. But I am sure it is one of the reasons I love the sea so much. To me, the sea has no limits, no expectations, no obligations. It is simply The Sea. No strings, nothing. That was freedom to me. It is probably very closely linked to why I have always loved pirates, and for those that are always asking - why I chose a ship as a tattoo. 

Because of the adventures.

I have three girls. No sons, just girls. People like to point that fact out to me, you know, in case I have not yet noticed it, or maybe forgotten. Being mom to a significant amount of the same gender makes random people feel like they should give you advice/their opinion on that particular gender and the stereo-types they adhere to...a lot. I'm talking about strangers, acquaintances, the check-out person at target, the lady in line behind me at the bank, the eye doctor, the other parent on the field-trip...well, really anyone. I know some of that is simply a "having kids" thing and usually the reason is simply someone trying to find something to small-talk about, but I get it every time I take all three out in public with me, almost without fail. 

Because of this, it has made me stop and pay attention a little more. I watch how little girls are treated vs. little boys; in classrooms, at parks, at the grocery store, really everywhere. I pay attention to what is/is not said. I notice the gaps, the discrepancies, the subtle messages or lack there-of. I was the mom buying T-shirts from the "boy" section because my girls loved super-heroes, Star Wars and TMNT and there weren't any in the section I was "supposed" to shop in (to give credit, there is now. But I would say only just now, for the first time...ever). I make constant mental notes of those differences, and specific mental notes when the differences are uniquely absent with a particular person or environment. Sometimes the differences in how boys vs. girls are treated is needed, most of the time, it is not. 

I am an analyzer, it is how I live, how I view the world around me. So when my girls started getting old enough to ask real questions - old enough to start creating hopes and dreams, I started doing my best to shape their world into something that was nurturing to that. When they started developing a sense of self outside of our close-knit family circle, I started paying attention to where they were getting their messages and what those messages were saying. The result was my present die-hard feminism - I watched their world and decided that for me, if I was going to raise strong girls, I had no choice but to bring that into my parenting. Equality needed to be threaded through all parts of our lives, however much I could.

Being a feminist parent has meant that there are things I actively do and do not do. Sometimes I am curious how my language would have been different if I had all boys instead of all girls, or perhaps a mix of them both. I would like to think that I would parent the same way...well, as much as you can when kids are so unique unto themselves. 

Paying attention to the world around my kids has also made me stop and take a good solid look at the world/culture in which I grew up, and what messages spoke the loudest to me. Some of those messages were life-giving and have made me a stronger person, such as body image. I have zero memories of my mom complaining about her weight growing up. I do remember a few times when she made an added effort to eat well and exercise, and now I can look back and assume that weight loss was likely at the root of it. But wanting to be healthy over-all was always the message that was presented to her kids.  

I believe that attitude is directly linked to the fact that my siblings and I have all grown up with solid, positive body-images. Sure I have my days where I am certainly not happy with what I see in the mirror. But it does not affect my self-esteem much, those things are not really connected. All it does is give me motivation to fix what I am not happy with, and thanks to being taught how to eat well and exercise, I know how to do that.  

However, growing up in the eighties in the midst of conservative culture has also given me insight into some things I do not want to pass on to my children.  

To give you an example: M*A*S*H is one of my favorite TV shows. But I am not ok with my kids watching it - not now, not as teenagers, maybe not until they are adults. Why? Because my oldest daughter wants to be a zoo-ologist, my middle daughter wants to be an entomologist and my youngest daughter a doctor. And you know what? I believe that they will - if they continue to desire it. I also believe that watching a show, (you should have heard the disclaimers I would add when we were watching the Andy Griffith Show!) no matter how brilliant that show may be, that only ever shows men in dominant roles is not healthy for their future aspirations. I believe seeing these cultural norms, however outdated they may be, creates habits in the brain that are hard to reverse. I believe for myself, growing up, where every single adult female in my close, personal circle was a stay at home mom was not good for me. I grew up assuming that was what I would be – that was what I SHOULD be, even though a part of me screamed in protest. No one told me this, but it was all around. And it created a culture where when I had my own kids, I felt incredible guilt when I wanted to do something for myself, as if the fact that I was not fulfilled just being mom to my children made me wretchedly broken. That guilt was all-consuming and I had no tools on how to manage it. I truly believed that there was something wrong with me. Sometimes I still wonder...

I know everybody on this island
Seems so happy on this island
Everything is by design
I know everybody on this island
Has a role on this island
So maybe I can roll with mine

I can lead with pride
I can make us strong
I'll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?

I want to be clear, I do not necessarily regret staying home with my kids, I cannot say what challenges we would have faced had it turned out another way. When it comes down to it, I feel that me being a stay at home mom was a good thing for them. However, I do not think it was the best thing for me, and I wonder sometimes how much of that bled through. When you are forced to re-live the same childhood routines over and over again for years, there is a part of you that stops growing. I had to put myself on hold, because in order to give the best for my kids 24 hours a day everyday, I had to be able to relate to them. I'm not saying this was healthy, but it was all I knew how to do. I lived in “coping” mode for 10 years. And now that I am moving out of it, now that they are all in school full-time and I can slowly unwrap the layers of "coping" and start to re-learn how to be a person again – I feel I am paying for it. Somewhere along the way I have developed what is sometimes crippling social anxiety - I battle depression, a lack of emotional response, a lack of empathy, I cannot relate to other women, I've forgotten how to talk to adults. I can't always recognize nuances in conversation, I simply don't have the experience - which can lead to some very awkward conversations and has in the past led to some very devastating miscommunications.

If I think about it, there is not one time that I was actively discouraged from working outside the home. I have no doubt that if it was something I desired, my husband would support that 100%. The idea to do it (outside of a handful of MLM "businesses") just never occurred to me. Because if you CAN stay home, you do...right? That is the culture I was raised in, like my mother before me and her mother before her and on and on and on. And I am not in any way saying that being home with kids is wrong, for many many people it is exactly right, just what they need, perfect for their families and I am so very glad of that...but now, I can look back and see that I think it was wrong for me.

All of these things have become shockingly clear as I try to re-enter the "real world" by going to writing conferences, attempting critique groups, selling myself to agents and "shmoozing" as the term would be, with publishers and editors. So the cycle establishes itself: Sign up for a conference, get physically ill knowing I will have to be in a group of people, go to the conference/group meeting, stumble over my words hoping I am making sense, try to make eye contact while my heart is beating out of my chest (because real people make eye contact right? I can't remember!) but not too much eye contact or they will think (know?) I am a crazy person. Laugh in the right places...I think. Take a thousand notes, submit my work for brutal and honest critique, grasp desperately at any shred of encouragement I can catch, return home to yet another "we regret that your manuscript is not right for us at this time" form letter. 

Cry. Write, Cry (in that order). 


The anxiety never gets better, but I am sort of getting used to it now as the cycles repeat over and over.  I have only been doing this "for real" a year or so, still a beginner. Lots of time to work through it all. Perhaps it is a mid-life crisis. Perhaps it is a psychological breakdown. I'm not sure – but it has this weird feeling of swimming through mud to get to the air that I KNOW is there, that I have forgotten about for years. And now, finally it is in sight and it is all I can think about. But I am not sure I remember how to breath it.

What do I know for sure?

My kids are turning into the most spectacular people, despite my blundering as a parent. Perhaps I even helped a bit?  I do not miss the baby/toddler phase, at all. AT ALL! despite what I was told by all the old ladies at the grocery store. I love that they grow fast, because it means we can have real conversations now. I love the people they are growing into, and so far...they still seem to like me. I'll call that a win. Watching them grow into fantastic people, that is so fulfilling. I can't wait to watch them wade through the deep waters of teenage-hood. I think they are going to rock it. (Did I sound old right there? I did didn't I...)

I get a paycheck every month because I did some work to establish myself in a MLM business (I know) a few years ago, and I was in the right place at the right time and it payed off. The fact that I can help out financially, even a drop in the bucket - is more fulfilling to me than I can express. 

And...I got my first acceptance letter for one of my poems last week!

These words: 

"Hello, and thank you for submitting "I Think That I'm a Dragon" for our consideration. I’m happy to report that we would like to accept your delightful poem for publication in SPIDER magazine" 

These words filled me with a life, with a joy that I have never before experienced.  Someone who is not my family, not my friends, someone who is not invested in my life in any way thinks that my writing is worth paying for?!? I cannot even describe the feeling (which as a writer may be a bad thing. I'll be working on that one.) But I am pretty sure that this is air, this is breathing! Sure, they added this: 

"At this time, I am unable to tell you when your poem will appear in print. Due to our rather full poetry files, it could be two to three years before the poem would be published. Please be assured that we will make every effort to see that your wait is as short as possible." 

But...I got a yes!!!

I think I've got this...I think I'll be ok. This, this is what I was made to do.  I just had to go through some hard things do we all!

See the light as it shines on the sea
It's blinding
But no one knows how deep it goes
And it seems like it's calling out to me
So come find me
And let me know
What's beyond that line
Will I cross that line?

Does all of this make me a terrible stay at home mom? Does the fact that I have to ask that question mean that I am still hopelessly broken, that there is something tragically wrong with me? Maybe, probably - we all are broken in our own unique ways. But I am trying to shift my thinking to see that as simply being human. Our broken-ness does not define us, but it can be a part of who we are, and that can be a positive thing. It's ok that even after almost 11 years, I still suck at the "stay at home mom" thing.  I think someday my kids and I will be able to laugh at all the blunders, they are a part of both of our stories. 

I hope you can read all that, if not let me know and I'll type it all out. Jenny Lawson is my spirit animal. If you have struggled with anxiety or depression, (or know someone who does and want to understand them better) have a good sense of humor and do not get easily offended - READ HER BOOKS. I cannot recommend them enough. 

I am a Feminist. I'll admit - I don't always wear a bra, I can't remember the last time I shaved my arm-pits and I truly believe that if it is legal for men to walk around topless, that women should be allowed to do it too. But that is not what makes me a feminist.

I am a feminist because I teach my girls that they matter beyond their girl parts, beyond their ability to reproduce, that I want them to dream big and I will do everything in my power to make their dreams come true.

I am a feminist because I teach my girls that their opinion matters, politically, socially, economically. That their ideas are just as valid as the boy sitting next to them, just as his ideas are just as valid as theirs. That they both have the right to fight for what they believe in, no matter who tells them to sit down, shut up and let someone else with more experience, education or authority do it.

I am a feminist because I teach my girls that if they want to get married someday, they can. If they don't want to, that's fine too.  If they desire children, that is great - if they don't, that doesn't make them less of a woman. If someday they wish to devote their lives to working a job that they love, that sounds amazing - if they wish to be a stay at home mom, that is great. If they want to do both, and find a balance that works for them, they can do that. The important thing is that THEY get to choose and they feel zero pressure either way.

I am a Feminist because I no longer have to place clauses around the line “you can do anything you want to do” while speaking to my kids. They can, and they will change this world, and they won't be an exception, because they will have the support of thousands of other woman at their side, changing the world right along with them. 

I am a feminist simply because we are still having these conversations, and that breaks my heart. Because the numbers reflect that we have not come as far as we should have by now. I am a feminist because there is a movement to fix it, and that makes me so very happy! I am a feminist because I can now buy superhero t-shirts in the "girls" section of Target, and that feels like a huge step foreword. Because my kids have an amazing world that they are growing up in, a world where changes are being made for the better. A world where they will get more opportunities than ever before. A world where their hopes and dreams and ideas are encouraged and even requested!

I am a feminist because I believe it to be the right thing.

See the light where the sky meets the sea
It calls me
And no one knows how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know

How far I'll go