Sunday, November 24, 2013

An Ode to my Twenties

Tomorrow is my thirtieth birthday.  I've kind of been waiting for this day for a while now, with excited anticipation, expecting to – as everyone I've heard talk about it says – feel a boost in confidence, finally know who I am, where I fit, what I'm supposed to be doing with my life.  To finally be comfortable within my own skin.  I must admit, as this milestone has approached, I seen myself falling into some of these new roles almost automatically, watching as the fog of my childish naivety cleared and the warming rays of the woman I was becoming began shining in on my life.  It's been both unnerving and comforting, this leaving behind of my early adulthood.  Like a ship sailing into an unknown harbor, unable to stop, and not even wanting to, but still, finding the fear of what awaits ahead a bit daunting.  

My twenties were both beautiful and tragic, mundane at times, and absolutely charged with life at others.  It's always like that, no matter where you are in the arc of life.  The waves of change bringing ebbs and flows, leaving me, at times, desperately low only to raise me to the highest of highs when I didn't see it coming.  In my early twenties, my life shifted in a way I'd never imagined it would.  It is not an exaggeration to say that those first few years drastically altered my life's course.  I got my heart broken, ripped out and torn to unrecognizable pieces.  I got very lost in my life.  I was, for the first time ever, completely alone, and in that moment of desolation, I found the most beautiful friendship, one within my own heart.  It took time for those wounds to heal, the truth is there is much hurt that I still carry with me from those years, hurt that can never be undone.  But it was that tragedy that led me to find myself.  And so it was worth it.  

I must celebrate the wonderful things that happened during this last decade of my life.  I met my best friend, who would go on to become my husband and make me the mother I'd always dreamed of becoming.  Through him, I rediscovered myself all over again.  It's as if my life has been a series of finding myself, seeing new facets of being through the eyes of those I love.  By far the biggest change my twenties brought me were the births of my three beauties, my children.  I have learned so much through motherhood, and I continue to learn from them every single day.  The sage wisdom of such young souls astounds me.  It's in the quiet moments with them that I get a peak into the magic of life.  There is nothing more spectacular that watching life unfold before my eyes, it has been my privilege to have spent these last six years watching my babies grow.  Through all the frustration, through the trials, through the work and the worries and the mundane, through everything that is difficult and painful about parenting, there is nothing so dark that the light of my children's faces can't outshine it.  There are a thousand beautiful moments for every hard one, and hundreds of peaceful memories to outweigh the chaotic ones.  My twenties taught me to see the sparkle of life, even when everything else seems shrouded in darkness.  They shine twinkling light into my life; my children are my stars.  

There are so many things I still want for my life, so much I'm looking forward to doing in this decade to come.  Fulfilling my life's dream of becoming an author.  Being present in the moment.  Strengthening and deepening my most important relationships.  Watching and guiding my children as they seek to find their way.  There is so much ahead, too much to look forward to to be sad to say goodbye.  So I bid you farewell, my twenties, and I open my arms wide and embrace the year to come.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

the prisms of my life

by brianne wiseman

for the sun is here, in her
as she shines out her enchanting warmth
it's in her lavender eyes
engrossed in the vastness of her expansive creativity
it's in her enveloping hugs
always like it's the first hug she's ever felt
it's in her soulful smiles
her exaggerated waves when she first sees me in the carpool line
it's in her graceful girliness
her empathy, her ever-evolving sense of self, her bravery
that child is a prism of rainbows
glowing at me, her fierce light dancing all around her.

the sun is here, in her too
as she tries desperately to block out the oppressive clouds
it's in her grey eyes
full of tearful apologies, the depth of her forgiveness, the ease of her forgets
it's in her mindful breaths
her fragile peace breaking through waves of wild, red anger
it's in her simple kisses
the fullness of her cuddles, how her heart is never full enough
it's in her requests for back rubs
her face tucked tightly into my neck, never, never, close enough
that child is a prism of rainbows
glowing furiously despite her struggles, letting her enchanting light out

it's here again, in him
as he discovers the adventures beyond home and the joys of taking chances
it's in his electric eyes
the way he runs too fast to me each morning, crashing into my legs
it's in the messy halo of yellow hair
in his rocks and sticks and how he never wants to wear a shirt, but always, always, shoes
it's in his unbelievably loud sirens
his endless imagination, his curiosity, his nighttime cuddles, his fish lip kisses
it's in his i'm tired too and his momma hold me
when he's already perched in my lap, a little bird
that child is a prism of rainbows,
illuminating the world and lighting up my life with his charming ways

they are the prisms of my life
reflecting their sparks into my soul
when the rain washes down deluges upon me

dreaming & pretending

by brianne wiseman

i make their meals & shush their cries
i clean their messes & give them baths
i tie their shoes & do their laundry
i change their diapers & brush their hair
then i look in the mirror and wonder
what am i doing here?

i always thought i would belong in this life
but the days of screaming & fighting & lonely car rides all together
when nothing i do is ever nearly enough
i wonder
what am i doing here?

i should be able to comfort her
but i don't even want to try anymore
i should be the one in charge
but i am not, not even close
i should be enriching their lives
but am i stifling them instead?
i should be so much that so often i'm not
and i think
what am i doing here?

as a child, i dreamed of motherhood in all its glorious charm
beautiful beings devoted to me, our mutual love palpable
both of us eager to please, just to witness the other smile
and life would be a painting, on the banks of paradise

as a mother, the reality is often harsh and tiresome
it's trying my hardest to please each one, only to make them all unhappy
it's waiting for a thank you mom that's never going to come
it's you always and you never and i love you and i hate you

and in my reality i've had to find my paradise
ushering in both the greyest of skies and the most magnificent rainbows
and i could sit here and pretend to only see the rainbows
life is a lonely, long day sprinkled with prisms of brilliance

and i choose to watch the prisms dance

warm sheet

by brianne wiseman

your eyelashes lay gently on your rosy cheeks
your chest falls slowly up... and down... up... and down...
there is silence in the air, so quiet
the only sound, your pillowy exhalations

your hands folded neatly beneath your cheek
elbows tucked in tight to you
your chestnut hair dances around your face
framing your porcelain features in its shiny smoothness

not long ago, my child, you were a baby in my arms
chubby cheeks, curious eyes, but always, always, tucked in to me
your fingers curled magnetically around mine
like pieces of a puzzle, fitting together seamlessly

then I looked up and out of nowhere, you were flitting about with inescapable tenacity
shattering my life into a thousand shades of beauty, each mirrored by the next
a little firefly, glowing brightly, always lighting her own way
seeing the world for the first time with fresh blue eyes

since the first moment, I've been so scared to let go of you, my girl
so afraid of all the wonders I'll miss
not wanting to waste even a moment being away from you
my little world, my soul child

but I needn't worry, for here you are
you always return to me, with new adventures and big plans
you fall into me, each night hugging me tighter than the last
and when I least expect it, you say I smell like home

I will always be your home, my sweet, precious girl
you can cover yourself in the warm sheet of my heart

say yes to life

by brianne wiseman

say yes to change
say yes to uncertainty
say yes to deep hurt
say yes to even deeper love

say yes to simplicity
say yes to wonder
say yes to chaos
say yes to calm

say yes to a few more minutes
say yes to right now
say yes to tighter hugs
say yes to hurt feelings

say yes to intention
say yes to spontaneity
say yes to growth
say yes to good enough

say yes to quiet
say yes to boisterous play
say yes to vulnerability
say yes to bravery

say yes to letting them take their time
say yes to making the time
say yes to finding your happy
say yes to allowing your sad

say yes to discovery
say yes to evolution
say yes to creativity
say yes to taking chances

say yes to fear
say yes to adventure
say yes to triumph
say yes to second place

say yes to relishing the moment
say yes to the little things
say yes to tucking in
say yes to everyday miracles

say yes to belly laughs
say yes to tearful eyes
say yes to new hellos
say yes to final goodbyes

say yes to dream chasing
say yes to sitting still
say yes to noticing
say yes to connecting

say yes to music
say yes to smiles
say yes to angry words
say yes to slammed doors

say yes to i love you's
say yes to rolled eyes
say yes to always being there
say yes to letting go

say yes to new births
say yes to sad endings
say yes to everything in between
say yes to life

the light & the shadows

by brianne wiseman

the light shines brightly over me
but I don't want it, I bury my face
in the shadowy sliver of emptiness
I open myself to the darkness
and let the pain come in
taking residence in my mind

it's a curious thing, this emptiness
it haunts me with each sly step
closing in on me like a thief

and steal it does, more often than not
carting away my joys, carrying off my dreams
leaving me all alone with myself

I'm here now, in this place of bitter refuge
and it's damp and dark and void of anything
but the lostness, the distance

and in the blackest of nights, I see it
but, no, that can't be, the emptiness forbids it
yet there it is; it's a faint sparkle

just a glimmer, a twinkle, but it's something
it's real.  it's hope.  it's courage.
the emptiness sees it too, this vulnerable little light
and it strides on over to snuff it out
to plunge me right back into the dark abyss
but the light doesn't dim
instead, it fades the emptiness in its embrace
and its flames burn brighter, dancing about in swirling delight

and the emptiness cannot compete

the light shines brightly over me, once again
I bathe in its warming wonder
and the emptiness is nothing but a shadowy sliver

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Little Space

I've been a bit absent from my blog for a few months.  It's not that I haven't had much to say, but rather, what I've been feeling hasn't exactly lent itself to being put into dialogue.  Life is up and down; sideways and even in reverse at times.  I told myself that this blog was about me, and it wasn't going to become another thing on my to-do list.  So it fell by the wayside for a bit.  And that's okay.

I have been struggling lately.  I haven't been able to put my finger on it precisely, but I suspect it's the simplicity, and the monotony, if I'm being honest, of everything being the same every day, for the last six years.  I don't want to come across as another complaining stay-at-home mom.  I know I'm fortunate to have been able to watch my three children grow up a little each day, right before my eyes.  Never missing a step, never missing a laugh, never missing the sweet sight of long eyelashes gracing sleeping cheeks.  I'm beyond blessed.  My family is beyond blessed.  I know this.  In my heart, I know it.

But also in my heart, there is a little space.  A space that's small, but has seemed to grow with each passing year.  A space that's calling out for something more.  Something personal.  Something other than nurturing.  Something other than home-making.  Something to fulfill my soul on a different level.  Not better than motherhood, just fulfilling in a different way.

I've been trying to find something to fill that space.  To quiet that little voice.  To fulfill the nagging needs of my heart, so that I can, once again, embrace all of the magnificence around me.  I feel like if I could just satisfy this little quiet whimper of my soul, then I would free myself to be more present as a mother, to be happier, more alive, more fun.  Because in those moments when I find the little voice quiet, I can overlook the craziness of my everyday life and focus my lens on it's magnificent majesty.  I want that more than anything.

I'm still searching for that little missing piece of fulfillment, as I think many people are.  I'm not sure if I'll find it.  I'm not sure if it isn't the sheer act of searching, of self-insight, of meditation, that just might, in the end, be the thing I was missing all along.  I don't know where I'm headed with any of this.  I just know that a wandering soul isn't always lost; sometimes one just needs to wander a bit before she can truly find her way.

In the time since I last posted, I've written several pieces in my journal.  I'm including one at the end of this post.  It feels right.

by brianne wiseman

let things be wild
let them make a mess
let them feel the world they're creating in their hands
let the majesty of this moment envelop me
let fear and anxiety lose their power over me
let things be wild
let me let go of perfection
let me lead it gracefully out the door
let my life open up to possibility
let me push past the doubts that bind me
let things be wild
let me lose control
let me laugh with sheer abandon
let the blood of living pulse deep into my soul
let belly laughs escape me, let tears of joy fall
let things be wild
let chaos give way to creation
let plans fall to the magic of spontaneity
let the what-ifs fly away on the wings of what is right now
let the beauty of this moment shine on me, sparkling
let things be wild
let me let go of expectation & comparison
let my soul seek out contentment & peace
let the nuances that suffocate happiness be set loose
let simplicity color my life with it's beautiful prism
let things be wild

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is It Ever Enough? A Frank Discussion About Body Image

I've spent the last nine months working toward an unattainable goal... my vision of the perfect body.  I'm sure you've seen her - that picture on Pinterest, the girl with ripped abs, killer arms, tight glutes, sweat pouring off her tanned, taut skin.  She looks perfect.  I think there's a little part of each of us that wishes we looked like that.  I started small.  First, I changed my diet.  I went from a junk-food, fast-food junkie to a clean eating vegan to a high protein, low carb, grain free diet.  I started counting calories and macros and figuring out what deficit I needed to get off these last ten pounds to hit my goal - an arbitrary number I chose because I liked how it sounded to weigh that much.  I started running, added in jumping jacks and crunches, then progressed to more intense circuit workouts and weight-lifting.  I started focusing on adding weight to my workouts while decreasing the number on the scale.  Anyone who knows anything about building muscle knows it's pretty difficult to simultaneously lose weight and gain muscle.  But try I did... and still am.  I've gotten addicted to working out.  I love the feeling of dripping sweat and sore muscles.  I love the gratification I get after finishing an intense workout.  I love pushing myself, even when my mind tells me to quit.  I workout an hour a day, six days a week.  If I miss my workout, I'm pissed.  My day is shot.  You might be reading all of this and thinking, “I wish I had that problem.  I hate working out.”

But growing alongside my love of working out has been an increasing dislike of my body.  It's been unexpected and crippling at times.  You see, instead of celebrating my accomplishments, I still look at myself as needing more work.  Instead of being proud that I can bust out 70 burpees, I look at my arms and wish my muscles were more prominent.  I don't see strong legs, though I am lifting weights I never imagined.  Instead, I look at my legs and I see “stubborn fat” that just won't go away.  Instead of looking at my abs and being damn proud that I can actually see my six pack (in the right light, anyway), I am depressed that my skin is scarred and stretched from three pregnancies.  Instead of being proud to have put on nearly eight pounds of muscle in the past nine months, I'm disappointed that I'm further away from my “goal weight” than when I started.  I'm less happy now as a size 2 than I ever was as a size 8.  Why?

I've gotten caught up in it.  We are all bombarded with it, the idea of “perfect”, like that's going to make us happy, or worthy, or whole.  It won't, it can't, it doesn't.  But we still feel the pressure to reach for that unreachable ideal.  Each of us carries our own set of strengths and weaknesses, our own perfections and our own flaws.  I've found myself focusing so much lately on my flaws that I can't even see all the awesomeness I used to see in me.  Time to get that back.  Time to shift my focus.  Time to stop focusing on what I'm not and be proud of who and what I am right now.  I don't have to weigh a certain number to be just right.  I'm just right already.  I don't have to see my imperfections as flaws, I can choose to see myself as perfectly imperfect, like every single person on this planet.  I don't have to work harder, eat cleaner, lose more to be enough.  I am enough already.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Dark Eye of Perfection

I used to think that being a perfectionist was a good thing.  But nearly thirty years into my life – I've come to realize it isn't at all the thing I thought it to be.

As a child, I was often called “conscientious” by my teachers.  In fact, every teacher I can remember noted that on my report card from elementary school on.  I never really knew the meaning of the word until I finally looked it up in high school.  It basically means wanting to do what's right, and doing one's best.  The word certainly sums me up.  It might seem that such a description would bring one the satisfaction of knowing that others notice their drive for things to be right, to be just so, to be perfect.  My perfectionistic personality served me well through school and into the workforce, setting me apart from my peers who could complete papers and projects and not concern themselves with minor defects and flaws.  The things they so easily dismissed were the same things that crippled me.  I could never turn in something I knew wasn't perfect.  I just couldn't.

Becoming a parent has cast a dark shadow onto my need for perfection.  I see now how foolish the strive for perfection truly is.  It hurts to know that the core of who I am is what – in the end – tears my soul into pieces day by day.  You see, just because I know that perfection is unattainable doesn't make it any less my aim.  My heart knows better.  My heart says let it go.  My mind refuses.  My mind allows the ticks of real life to shatter my perception of what my life should look like.  The blocks scattered about the floor, the crayon marks on the walls, the smeared food on the table.  For some parents, most I think, those things represent a well-loved, lived-in, happy home.  For me, those things highlight my failures.  Every little out-of-place trinket reinforces the fact that I don't have it all under control, that I don't have anything under control at all.  I follow behind my children, cleaning up the path of destruction they leave like they are little tornadoes destroying my beautiful town, when I should be dancing in the storm along with them.

This might sound silly or superficial.  You'd probably tell me to get over it, get over myself.  I wish I could.  I beg myself all day long to just let go.  Just let go.  Let the mess happen.  Let the dishes pile up.  Let the laundry sit-in-wait.  Let it be.  It's not an easy thing to do.

My heart longs to see the beauty in the mess.  To accept that life is not a series of perfectly posed photos.  It is deep valleys and majestic peaks, and without the valleys, we wouldn't even notice the peaks.  Life is full of messy, unexpected, fragile, blissfully imperfect moments of madness.  And in that bounty is where the true majesty resides.

Perfection steals away reality.  It dulls the beauty that imperfection creates.  It hides me from the people who need to see me in all my shades.  I'm neurotic, obsessive, verging on manic at times.  Other days I'm light as a feather, free, open, relaxed.  I'm both sides of a mixed metal coin – when I let my authentic self shine through.

The desire for perfection haunts me.  It doesn't serve me or those I love.  It imprisons me – a demon that dances in my soul, darkening the light of my glorious life.  It's the root of my frustrations, my sadness, and my disappointments.

Perfection never allows me to fumble – but it also never releases me to fly.  I need to see both sides.  To relish in the darkness while anticipating the light – for it is in that place of twilight that my eyes see the beauty in the landscape of my life.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Creating Habits

Have you ever watched someone play an instrument? I mean really play it. With every note, every key, every pluck, you hear the beautiful, powerful melody of practice. The sound of habit. The tune of dedication, perseverance, persistence. 

I've played piano since childhood, but I don't practice very often anymore. In my mind I remember almost nothing, but through my hands I can recollect one song. It's a great one, my favorite piece from high school, a difficult piece, and one I wasn't sure I would ever master. But I did, and since then it's a piece I have played over and over again throughout the years. And it's the one I play every time I sit down at the keys to this day. It's the only piece that gives me that sense of fulfillment and excellence, that reminds me of how – through time and work – anything can be accomplished. Of course, on many occasions, it's more likely that I'm tickling the ivories to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider or my girls' latest Disney favorite. But when it's my turn, I always come back to Passacaglia.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

Lately I've been putting a lot of effort into creating new habits. It's a tough thing to do, to change the inertia of one's life, pulling away from the comfort of the familiar and tracking off course into the unknown. My habits are – for better or worse – the bricks that build the foundation of my life. To grow and evolve, I have to continue to create new habits, find new ways to challenge myself, learn new things. Wishing for the ability to play guitar, or become an author, or compete in a triathlon, wishing won't do anything to make those things happen. The only thing I can do to achieve my dreams is to create habits that guide me toward them. To reach my mountainous goals, I have to take little steps each day toward the summit. It won't be quick. When I start, I might feel like I felt when I first heard my favorite piano piece – like I would never get there. But each day brings the chance to keep the promises I make to myself. To do the things I said I'd do. To follow through creating new habits and leave behind destructive ones.

Stop the habit of wishful thinking and start the habit of thoughtful wishes.
Mary Martin

We could go through our whole lives never realizing that our habits, those little seemingly insignificant things we do each day, make up the whole of who we are. We are the sum of the things we do each day, the things we fill our time with, good or bad, mundane or meaningful. Our habits become our future. Whether we want them to or not.

People do not decide their futures, 
they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.
FM Alexander

If I look back on my life a year from now, will I be content with the way I filled my days? Will I live a life of regret, wishing I'd taken the time to practice music, play legos, eat healthy, meditate, get close to those I love? Will I find the strength today to reach the next summit, or will I stay in the hopeless land of wishful wondering? How will my life look a decade from now? If I don't change my habits, it'll look just like it does today. Am I okay with that?

Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.
Horace Mann

So what do we do if we know we want radical change? If we want to embark on something brand new, something we know nothing about, something scary, something life-altering? All we have to do is start. That sounds so simple, and it is. But that's how life works. You see your goal. You set out to reach it. You find small, achievable steps toward that goal. And then you take those steps. Every. Single. Day. To redirect your path when necessary, going around obstacles you didn't see when you set out. But no matter what, you keep moving forward until one day, one day, you see the summit. You made it. You built the steps to your goal, and you climbed them until you reached the top. You didn't settle for wishing and waiting. You didn't let the momentum of life hold you down, but you used it to propel you forward on your journey of self-discovery. And when you look back on your life, and all you've done, all the promises you kept to yourself, you'll stand at the top of that mountain, basking in the glorious sunlight, arms held up high with the thrill of accomplishment spreading across your face. Don't wait until tomorrow to start living the life you want to live. Your summit is waiting for you.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dreams of my Ten-Year-Old Self

It's been said that a person who makes a living doing the thing he loves never works a day in his life.  Sounds idyllic.  For me, that one thing has always been writing.

I was sitting on a hill in my backyard as a ten-year-old, working on poetry and journaling.  It was spring, the breeze tickled my neck and twirled my hair in its fingers, blowing the pages of my notebook up and making me messy my letters.  Tiny purple flowers surrounded me in my perch on the hillside.  In my mind, it's a picture perfect day.  Clouds speckled the sky like little ships sailing into harbor.  Birds sung happy, spring-time songs to each other.  It's the way one might imagine Jane Austen or Emily Dickinson spending an afternoon as a child.  Surely, I thought in that moment, this is what I'm supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.  My writings were far from extraordinary.  I had notebooks full of mediocrity.  Random words strung together.  Some were about nature or my most recent crush.  I often wrote about my family, my parents, feeling torn between them since they divorced.  But the subject matter was irrelevant.  That wasn't why I wrote.  I wrote because it felt good to write.  It felt good to be still and quiet and listen to the whispers coming from inside me.  Letting the moment dictate what I wrote was all the muse I needed.

As a child, teenager, and young adult, I was painfully shy.  My face would turn that not-so-charming shade of beet red whenever I was called upon in class or at work, whether I knew the answer or not.  Writing gave me a voice when I was too afraid to speak out in person.  Through my words and papers, I let people know how much I loved them, how much they hurt me, how circumstances affected me.  Words helped me discover who I was, and gave me a way to show other people the person that lived inside the shy body.  I dreamed through my writing, imagined great futures or distant pasts.  I relived past heartaches and found pieces of myself I hadn't known were missing.  I fell in love for the first time through letters.  Writing has always felt right for me, ever since that day on the hill.  Even when the words don't come out right, and I find myself starting again and again, there is always so much to learn through the act of writing, and there is the unending need to let out the images growing inside me.

I wrote religiously as a teen, even submitting some of my poetry to publications.  I read and wrote and read and wrote some more.  I was word-obsessed.  But I got busy as I got older, and as adults tend to do, I made less and less time for the thing my heart loved most.  I put my dream of writing into a little box.  I closed the lid.  I forgot about it all together.  I lost that part of myself for a while.  A long while.  I've been struggling to get it back ever since.

I never set out to be a best-selling author, though obviously that would be a tremendous accomplishment.  It's about so much more than recognition for me though.  As selfish as it sounds, I don't really write for other people.  I write for me.  It feels amazing when the things I'm sharing or feeling make a mark on someone else's heart because they identify with my experiences and sentiments.  I love how writing connects people.  I really love that.  But whether that happens or not, whether a thousand people read this post or no one at all, it is still worth it.  It still means something to me.  Because I created it.  I got to write it.  Writing is it's own greatest reward.

One of the most courageous things a person can do is to embrace the voice inside themselves.  To listen to the strings that are pulling at their hearts.  To pursue their dreams with fierce determination, not to box them up – but let them out to play once in a while.  To let their dreams guide their life and be confident that they are being led right where they ought to go.

If you could do one thing for the rest of your life, what would you do?  What's the dream that has hung around in your heart, when your interests shifted, when you grew out of things, grew into new things?  What has been the one constant thing you could never give up?  The thing that would never let go of you.  The thing your ten-year-old self was spent free time pursuing.  Do you still dream about that magical thing?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Inertia of Waiting

I'm not a patient person.  I never have been.  When I decide I want something, I want it now.  Waiting is not a game I'm good at.  The universe has been trying to teach me patience my whole life, but, as I often say, it's taking too long.  I recognize the value that patience has, and I truly admire those with the fortitude to accept that now is not always the right time, for whatever reason.  One of these days, I'm going to have to accept that too.  Just because it isn't now, doesn't mean it's never.  Soon is not the same as the wishful someday.  Soon implies an action that will happen and relatively quickly, albeit not quickly enough for my timetable.

Life has a way of forcing the impatient to sit still.  Calming the eager heart.  Putting to rest the overactive soul.  Circumstances don't always align the way we wish they would, and we are forced to sit on the sidelines when we are itching to get in the game.  In situations like these, we may not see the benefit of inaction.  We might feel that we're headed to that dreadful, most useless place, the waiting place.  It's somewhere we've been before, and it isn't somewhere we're interesting in visiting again.  So what if life forces us back there?

It seems to me that the disappointment of waiting doesn't have to mean sitting still.  That there are lessons to be learned, ways to grow, actions to be completed, even in the state of wait.  The key is opening our eyes and hearts up to finding the compensation in the disappointment.  Preparation is a great way to fill the waiting time.  As is personal development.  There's also the beauty of anticipation, which in many cases, is as good or better than the action being awaited.  I'm convincing myself that the patience I'm learning through the times life forces me to sit still when I want to spring ahead is well worth the discomfort of waiting.  That the sheer act of not getting the things I wish for in this moment will make those things even more rewarding when it's finally time.  That the inertia of waiting here isn't going to hold me down in the end, but it will surely shoot me on to bolder dreams, dreams I haven't even thought of dreaming up yet.

There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are
all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails,
human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we
make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.
-Jane Austen

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stepping Out of the Shallows

As children, we were recklessly fearless.  Living mischievous lives of adventure, we'd seek out the unknown for the simple thrill of exploration.  Ignoring rules and disregarding safety empowered us to discover new things and overcome fears.  Along the path to adulthood, though, we start to lose some of that braveness.  Self-preservation is a learned behavior with suffering as it's teacher.  Each day's lessons draw us away from exploration and change, while reigning us back into our safe-zone, our comfort zone.

The tendency to fight against the current of change continues on, and, with all our strength, we push back against the waves of life, deceiving ourselves into believing we are harnessing them.  It's the way our brains are wired.

In our hearts, though, we yearn for change.  Happiness becomes an unreachable island, and though we may paddle toward it, at some point the inertia of the life's waves knock us down, hurling us right back to the actions we were trying to leave behind.  Nature has built into us the tendency to forgo the opportunities for meaningful change, insisting instead that we continue down the same weathered roads, which most often lead to nothing but regret.

Change is merciless; the unknown frightening.  So we oppose it, smothering the coals where the sparkle of new beginnings is trying desperately to ignite.  The work that comes along with monumental shift is arduous, tedious, and uncomfortable.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
-Neale Donald Walsch

With forceful resistance, we anchor ourselves to our comfort zone, and in the process attempt to numb the call to action.  We fill the void with anything that will fit, but at the end of the day, when we look around at all that we've amassed to silence the inner demons demanding change, we are left with little more than the emptiness we began with and a pile of baggage we've collected along the way.

This isn't the way true growth happens.  Growth comes from swimming against the current, from putting oneself in a place of discomfort, pain, fear, or uncertainty.  Learning to build ourselves up, to grow into new experiences, to alter our attitudes.  We may not be able to direct the tides of our lives, but we decide whether we will float into the unknown or drown trying to get back to shore.  Will we allow ourselves to be torn away from our comfort zones and embark on less-traveled, rocky, undiscovered shores?

Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool, 
or you go out into the ocean.
-Christopher Reeve

Accepting and embracing life-altering change isn't easy, but swimming against the current never is.  Looking back nearly a decade after my personal evolution began, I am certain beyond measure that the pain of revolution is always worth what you get out of it.  I am a polished stone because of my trials, which have taught me to embrace newness, embrace change, embrace challenges.  I have welcomed change and made dramatic shifts in my life's trajectory, but I still carry around that visceral reaction to new experiences, the gut-wrenching fear of the unknown.  I expect that life will continue to pound this lesson into me for as long as I walk this Earth.  There will always be the lure of the safe, sandy shore up against the scary uncertainty of the sea.

There are always two choices.  Two paths to take.  
One is easy.  And its only reward is that it's easy.

For years now, I've felt a pull towards moving somewhere completely different than here, somewhere new with new landscapes, new people, a new city, a new way of life.  I've thought about it, talked about it, imagined what it might look like, envisioned uprooting my family and journeying blindly together into the unknown.

The excitement builds along with the worries, and after a few days, and the questions, concerns, reasons not to begin to flow in.  What about work?  What about our health challenges?  What if something bad happens and no one is around?  What if we don't like it?  What if?  What if?  What if?  In just a few moments with those couple words, all of the anticipation and hope of the transformations we will surely undergo as a result of this monumental change – that all vanishes and is replaced by doubts, which reassure us that this is where we need to be.  That the safety and comforts of home are too good to leave behind.

The beautiful things is that wherever I go, my true home goes with me.  Home isn't this place, it's the precious people in it.  We deserve to live a full life of adventures, missteps, obstacles, and triumphs.  We deserve to experience the beauty of different cultures, different ideologies, different backgrounds.  We deserve to discover and explore the big, beautiful masterpiece of this world.  I want the journey of my life to take me to unexpected places, to challenge me.  I want to feel the urge to resist change and fight through it to the other side, wading out past the shallows, where the serenity of new seas surely awaits me.

Be bold. When you embark for strange places, 
don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. 
Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.
-Alan Alda

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Clearing Clutter to Create Clarity

Clutter lives here.  At least it tries to.  It fills up my closets, scatters its papers across my counters, pours its emptiness onto my calendar, spills out of my children's toy boxes, and buries my mind in its endless pursuits.

Clutter makes me antsy.  Forgetful.  Angry.  Irritated.  It paralyzes me; for with clutter as my companion, I struggle to accomplish the things I need to, while the tasks I want to do fall into the realm of regrets.  Clutter doesn't leave space for creation; it fills every nook with its uselessness, its busy tendencies, its acquisitions.  Clutter isn't a good friend, yet it has accompanied me, in one way or another, throughout my life.

I don't know where this idea comes from, the idea that life is about acquiring things.  I don't remember setting out to get more stuff, but as I look around, it seems this is the place almost everyone is headed.   The place of clutter.  It fills our homes, our cars, our schedules, our minds, our bodies.  It's everywhere.  Excess.  The desire for more.  The inevitable emptiness that comes with the things we expected would fill us up.  The cycle is never-ending, creating a numbing effect that ripples through the winding river of our lives.  Some people never recognize this feeling, they don't see that all their things are making them feel lost, out of control, fearful, bored, desperate.

Over the past few years, I made a concerted effort to declutter my life.  I fight the need to fill up every space, allowing instead for the beauty of bareness to shine its light into my life.  My shelves aren't stocked with things I've acquired just to fill them up, but rather, with things that I love, that inspire me, make me happy; things that actually mean something to me.  My closet isn't stuffed full of clothes I never wear, rather, it is sparsely filled with items that make me feel the most beautiful, the most comfortable, the most like myself.  My schedule isn't brimming with birthday parties, after-school activities, girls night outs, or adult-only parties, but rather, its often quite bare leaving room for the wondrous spontaneity of life to take over.  My counters aren't stacked high with papers and bills and magazines and last months receipts, rather, each of these has its own space so as not to take up additional space in my mind with each look.  My mind.

My mind - now there's a space that's more easily cluttered than any other.  Clutter burrows its way into my mind daily.  It's a constant struggle to keep things straight, to organize my thoughts, to keep my to-dos and want-to-dos accounted for.  I make lists.  I repeat things.  I sort.  I structure.  But I inevitably fail.  Clutter wins out.  Almost every time.  My mind is no match for the clutter that chaos creates.

So instead of fighting it, I decided to get rid of it.  Erase the chaos.  Or, when it can't be erased, embrace it instead.  Let go of the tendency toward perfection and float the river of my life, without regard to the end.  Let go of the clutter to create room for something far better.  The bare spots in my home, my closet, my schedule and most of all in my mind - the bare spaces leave room for me to see the beautiful, wonderful, magnificent things I cherish the most.  The things that I've collected because they mean something.  The memories.  The moments.  The mementos of times that can never be recreated.  The people I love most.  Clearing out the clutter leaves room for me to thrive.  I have room to create.  Room to breathe.  Room to relax.  Room to let go.  Room to be imperfect.  Room to become who I want to be.  I don't lose anything by giving up clutter.  I gain freedom to live a life worth living.  A life filled with things that truly mean something.  My life can be full of those kinds of things, if I choose to clear the clutter to leave some space for them to grow.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cultivating Calm {A Confession}

I didn't really know I had a temper until I became a mom.  Something about trying to convince little people to put away their things, while simultaneously picking up the trail of clothes, shoes, legos, cups, paper shreds, and topless markers they leave behind in their wake brought seemed to have brought it out in me.  Today I had a moment of darkness.  I found my nearly two-year-old mischievous {on his best days} son cleaning the bathroom floor with the toilet brush, which was dripping wet with the pee that his oldest sister “forgot” to flush down... again...  Yelling is not something I'm proud of, and I want so badly to remain calm in these situations, knowing that at some point in the {very very distant} future, I will look back and laugh at the havoc he caused.

But despite my intentions to not be a yeller, there it was.  Loud and scary and not at all who I want to be or the kind of mother I want my children to have.  I was so angry in that moment, angry from the crazy crying that had been going on all morning, angry because my little guy is going through separation anxiety and has me getting up all night for the past week and I didn't sleep well again, angry because I must say twenty times a day to flush the potty {really how hard is it to remember???} and yet there it was – bright yellow pee covering the floor and my son and threatening to put me in cardiac arrest I was so upset!

Reflecting back on it now, I know I over-reacted.  Majorly.  I knew it at the time as well, but that didn't stop the yelling.  In fact, just moments after my tantrum, I apologized to all three of my kids, trying to take away some of the sting I'm sure they felt from my harsh, abrasive tone.  I could see in the eyes of my daughter, I had terrified her.  It was my eyes, my angry eyes that were enough to send her sobbing and running into her room, locking the door behind her.

It's not an easy thing to admit to these less-than-perfect moments of motherhood, but it's real.  We all have hard days, we all do things we regret, we all lose control of our emotions and act in ways we are ashamed of later.  It's part of being a parent.  It's part of being a human.

Tonight, we played a little longer than usual, and they had already forgotten everything about the incident this morning, but that doesn't ease my guilt.  I know I wasn't the mommy I want to be today.  But that's okay.  I have tomorrow with them to be better for them.  To cultivate calmness in myself for my own happiness sake, but mostly for the sake of my babies.  They deserve a calm mother.  Children are amazingly forgiving, I know mine have already moved on from the happenings of today.  Now so must I.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Thirty Days of Yes

Growing up, there was one phrase that my dad would say that made an impression on me more than any other.  It wasn't so much the words that bothered me, but the truth behind them.  Because I said so, and I'm your dad.  Really all those words meant was that he had no valid reason, but because he controlled me, he made the rules.  I wasn't a child who liked to disobey, but I've always been a person who questions and seeks understanding.  His explanation left me feeling cheated, and it certainly didn't fool me.  I knew he didn't have a good reason, often no reason at all.  It was a cop out.  A non-reason.  A meaningless excuse disguised as the ultimate answer to everything.  It still kind of irks me to hear those words.

Yet as a parent myself, I must admit that I have said those same words to my children.  And the truth behind them is the same as it was when I was a teenager.  When I have a good reason for saying no, I give that reason to my kids when they ask the inevitable why.  But on those occasions when I have a less obvious reason or not much of a reason at all, I sometimes find myself resorting to the old stand by, Because I said so.  Each and every time I say those words – which is pretty infrequently still – I think of my dad.  I remember how frustrated it made me, not knowing why I was or wasn't doing something.

Somewhere along the path of parenthood I developed a tendency which I really dislike.  I find myself leaning to no, and often that no is in my head before the request has even finished leaving my children's lips.  I suspect that many parents find themselves in this place.  “No” is a convenient answer, when a “yes” would require me to do something that I don't want to do at that moment.  But “no” is usually met by sad eyes from the little people I love the most.  A while back I read this article about being a Yes Mom, and it resonated with me.  I want my children to look back onto their childhood's and remember a mother who stood firm when it counted, but who said more yeses than no's.  A bright, shining, happy Mom.  A Mom who tried her best to say “yes” whenever she could.  I want to be a Yes Mom for myself too.  For the peace that “yes” carries as its companion.  For the joy that accompanies it.  For the sheer wonderful delight that “yes” brings to my children's eyes.  I want to be a Yes Mom.

Tomorrow is June 1st, and it feels like the perfect time to try something new.  Thoughtful, meaningful, intentional yeses.  Thirty Days of Yes, to be exact.  So what will this mean for my family?  I can tell you what it won't mean.  It won't mean yes to every toy they want to buy.  It won't mean yes to unlimited candy.  It won't mean yes to not eating their veggies.  It won't mean yes to being rude.  It won't mean yes to ignoring chores or family rules.

It will mean yes to a few more minutes of night-time snuggles.  Yes to one more story.  Yes to staying up a few extra minutes.  Yes to game night.  Yes to {another} craft.  Yes to splashing in the puddles.  Yes to leaving the pile of laundry to play a game of tag.  Yes to a second round of Candy Land.  Yes to star-gazing.  Yes to more messy play.  Yes to helping chop the veggies for dinner.  Yes to wearing whatever they choose, regardless of what I think of it.  Yes to expressing themselves.  Yes to growing into themselves.  Yes to happiness.  Yes to less fighting and more freedom.

It might not always be convenient to say yes, but memories don't wait for the most convenient time.  Memories are made now, if we give them the opportunity.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Season of Now

I love the change of seasons;  those few days or weeks where the newness of the season hasn't yet worn off, where the anticipations of the past few months are manifested in each moment, where I couldn't possibly wish for the weather to be any different.  Fall is my favorite; I'm pretty sure it's everyone's favorite, but no matter what season it's changing to, there is always this inner longing for the newness of the next season to emerge.  The warmth of Spring which melts the Winter chill, bringing with it beautiful, fragrant blossoms, thundershowers, rainbows, and festivals.   The Summer heat which carries with it the promise of longer days, vacations, tanned skin, and lazy relaxation.  The crisp chill of Fall which blows it's breeze over the charred summer landscape, signaling the start of holidays, football season, and family times. The frigid air of Winter, which brings with it cozy sweaters, fireplaces, and the smell of pine.  There is something incredible in each Season.  Something to look forward to.  To anticipate.  But more often than not, a few weeks into each new season, I find myself anticipating the next season.  More than just anticipating it, wishing for it, waiting for it, unsatisfied by the presentation of Nature at the moment, and already wishing it away.

As I mowed our lawn this morning, the weather was glorious and hinting at Summer.  I couldn't imagine that I'd ever get tired of days like today.  And then I started thinking about the seasons of life, and how they are much like the seasons in Nature.

I can't remember a time in my life that I wasn't waiting for the season of Motherhood.  Becoming a mother has been the one constant, something I knew I was born to be.  We tried to get pregnant with Sadie for five months before we finally did, and while that is by no means a long amount of time, it felt painfully long as each month passed.  I remember the day I found out I was pregnant with her.  I woke up in the middle of the night, 2:30 am, and I could hardly sleep just waiting to know, wishing for my dream to finally come.  I took the test, and it was positive.  There is no way to describe the elation that I felt in that moment.  It was like the world had led me there, as if every breath I'd breathed up until then had been shallow and half-hearted, and I was finally breathing in the first full breath of my life.  It was a simple line on a stick, but for me, it was a monumental.  That was the moment I began to live.

Her birth was no less miraculous.  The sounds of her first cries are forever etched in my memory.  My heart grew one hundred times over in those first moments of her life.  She became the sun my world revolved around.  She was everything and anything I could ever want.  Nothing could make me take my eyes off of her, not for a moment.  After what had felt like endless winters, the season of Motherhood had finally come.

I envisioned myself as a mother for years and years before I ever became one, but I always knew the kind of mother I would be.  Attentive.  Supportive.  Nurturing.  Kind.  Funny.  Silly.  Doting.  The kind of mother who savored each moment, counted each new freckle, kissed each and every boo-boo, calmed each nightmare.  The kind who never rolled her eyes, never wanted alone time, never needed anything but to be with her children.

The reality of motherhood is quite different than anything I ever imagined.  It's certainly not always wonderful.  I am, at times, distracted, dismissive, cold, mean, serious.  I don't always make myself proud.  There are moments when motherhood feels foreign, like something I'm not cut out for.  I lose my temper.  I get frustrated.  Little things annoy me, like sand tracked in from outside, or bikes left out, or dirty clothes left draped all across the house.  Crumpled up clothes in messy drawers and the way I'm constantly buying children's body wash because they use up half the container with each bath.  Unmade beds, fighting over toys, tantrums, never sitting still.  Typical kids things.  Things which anyone planning parenthood should expect.  Things which other parents seem to shrug off; these are the things that gnaw their way under my skin.

No, my life is nothing like I once pictured it would be.  But it's no less beautiful.  I've caught myself in the past wishing away certain seasons of life to make way for newer seasons, envisioning that those seasons will somehow bring peace, purpose, an inner feeling of completion.  But I know, now, that is not the case.  And it never will be.  No season of life will ever be as beautifully imperfect as the season I'm in now.  There can never be anything now.  Wishing away today in hopes of tomorrow is like waiting for the sun to rise in Japan.  It will happen, but there's no guarantee I'll ever be there to see it.  I don't hold tomorrow in my hands.  I hold now.  This moment.  I know nothing of what will happen in my life, and I certainly can't plan for much of it.  I can spend all of my time waiting for a tomorrow that may never come.  Or I can be here.  I can be present for the life that's happening right now.  I can allow myself to feel alive and complete and wonderful in the moments of now.  These moments are all I have.

The seasons of change will come.  Some day all of my children will be off to school, and I have time to do the things that I want.  And most certainly, when those days are upon me I will find myself missing this season.  I will miss the interruptions and early morning wake-ups.  I will miss playing Candy Land over and over again.  I'll miss the messy crafting and the crayon marks on table tops.  I'll miss the pleas for extra stories and the tight squeezes of extra snuggles.  I'll miss the little shoes scattered all across the house and the milk stains on the furniture.  I'll miss hearing the dishwasher running, knowing that I didn't cut it on.  I'll miss the sweet smells that only come from my babies.  I'll miss the doe-eyed looks of my innocent baby boy.  The carefree giggles of my precious little girl, lost in a world of her own characters.  The way my daughter's hair dances in the wind as she's swinging and the sun sparkles off her cheeks.  I'll miss their childish voices, the unexpected hand holds, and the cries for Momma to make it all better.

How could I wish away this season?  It's the most beautiful one of all.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


There is no shortage of things demanding my attention these days.  The hierarchy is clear, when I step back and actually look at it, but when that little ding erupts from my phone, or when the buzz from the dryer goes off, or when the mood strikes me to reorganize something now, I have very little willpower to ignore or postpone those things.

I've spent much of my time in the last few months and even the last year seeking balance in my life.  I'm fortunate in that, at least for now, I don't have to balance a full-time job with being a mother and wife.  But even without that, I often feel like I'm not spending enough time with my family.  And not only that, I often feel as if I don't have any time for all of the other things I'd like to do.  As I've started to look at my life and internalize what's going on, it's become clear why that is.

It's the simple act of multi-tasking.  Or multi-non-tasking, in my case.

Because, for me at least, I've realized that it's impossible to give myself to more than one thing at any given moment.  Once I start trying to focus on more than one thing at a time, everything suffers.  When my daughter's want to do a craft, and I'm in the middle of reading something or writing something or folding laundry or cooking dinner or thinking about what I need to get done that day, I can't give myself to them in the way that I want to , in the way that they need, in the way that they deserve.  I cannot browse facebook, paint a butterfly, cook a healthy dinner, cut paper hearts out of construction paper, work on the family budget, soothe a crying baby, and make a grocery list all at the same time.

I can't do it.

Separately, I can do each of those things and do them well, do them the way I need to in order to feel like I can leave them once they are done.  But when I try to fit too many things into a single moment, nothing fits.  Each simple task is done begrudgingly and often quite poorly.  And no one is fooled.  My children don't look at me as an awesome mom who's getting it all done.  What they hear – loud and clear – is that their needs are less important than {fill in the blank}.  That is not the message I want to send to them, and it's certainly not the way I feel in my heart.  Nothing could be more important than them; not laundry, not the phone or computer, not dinner, not bills, not television, nothing.

They don't ding or buzz or have any fancy gadget attached to them.   But that doesn't make their needs any less imperative.  More so, in fact.  They need me, the whole me, the full, undivided me.  They don't need to compete with other things to win my attention.  They don't need the multi-tasking me.

I often notice their need for attention manifesting in behaviors I dislike;  bickering, whining, clinging, negative attitudes.  They are struggling to tell me through their actions that the things of the world have come between us.  Their needs are often not tangible, and they can't often articulate them.  At times, neither can I.  But I know what it means to be frustrated and feel the warmth of comforting words letting me know they believe in me.  I know how it feels to be down and lonely, and then to be made whole by the loving embrace of those closest to me.  My children know that feeling too.  And those moments are the things that they need.  They need to be heard.  They need me to listen.  They need to show off sometimes.  They need to know that no matter what, I am their's when they need me.  Not a piece of me, the whole me.  And I find that when I give them my complete attention when they need it, they drink it up and are full and enriched and just as quickly they move to the next whispering of their hearts.  And it's in those fullest of moments that I often hear my own soul whispering.  The things that feed my soul begin to speak to me.  And I'm free to listen.

I don't have to give up my own pursuits to make time for my children.  I have time.  I just need to shut down, switch off, throw out that little voice inside that's always saying I don't.  I do.  So do you.  We have time for the things we love and for the people we love.  I won't give those up.  I could, but I would be less me if I did.  I want to experience my life not just live through it.  I want to show my children the beauty in my soul, and I want to encourage them to show the world the beauty in theirs.  Life is nothing if not a series of choices.  I am a collection of the ambitions I give myself over to.  Each action defines what my life will be.  I can choose to live each moment half-way, cramming in as much as I can.  Or I can be present one moment at a time.  By giving myself to each moment, I will certainly feel more fulfilled and enriched through my journey, and my soul will be free to enrich those around me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

You are Super Mom!

Today was my five-year-old's last day of Pre-k.  As we were leaving the school, I carried my one-year-old on my side, held my three-year old's hand, and comforted my new Kindergartener as she cleaned out the wood chips from her sandals.  Another mom from my daughter's class held the door for us, and as we passed, she looked at me and said, “Wow, you are supermom!”  I immediately laughed because she has no idea how un-supermom I usually feel, then I exclaimed, “Well, thank you.  Really though, I usually feel like I just barely have it all together.”

The truth of the interaction hit me on the way home. Why is it that as mothers, we look at each other with this awesome reverence, seeing the strength it takes to do what it is we do.  We are quick to congratulate and applaud each others efforts, and equally as quick to dismiss our own.  Why do we see other mother's as always having it together, yet always feel like we ourselves never measure up?

The truth is there's a part of us that feels guilty when we are proud of ourselves, like we're egotistical to say, “Hell yeah!  I am supermom!”.  But if we're gonna recognize the accomplishments of other mothers {which we definitely should!}, then we can't dismiss our own awesomeness!  So the next time I see a mother whose got it all together, I'm gonna acknowledge her, and then I'm gonna take a minute to tell myself that I'm a supermom too!

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself." -Walt Whitman

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why I'm Done With The "F" Word

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed.  And you are beautiful.  -Amy Bloom

People often say that ' beauty is in the eye of the beholder ,' and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder.   -Salma Hayek

The older I get, the more dissatisfied I get with my body.  No matter how thin I am, I always feel like I should be thinner.  Or my hair should be longer.  Or shorter.  Or maybe I should be more tan.  Less pale.  I've never thought of myself as a superficial person, but when I think of my flaws, I certainly feel like there is so much of my physical self that I'm unhappy with.  I don't know why this is.  It seems to me that most women become more confident and less critical of their bodies as they age.  Not me.  After each of my children was born, I had a goal weight that I tried to get down to.  Breastfeeding helped me tremendously, and I always achieved my goal.  And it wasn't even hard.  And once I was there, at that magic number which I had arbitrarily chosen at some point along with way, I expected to feel a sense of accomplishment.  True happiness.  To feel complete.  Worthy.  Beautiful.  And each time I reached my magic number, I found myself just as unhappy with my body as I'd always been.  So I'd decide that if I just lost five more pounds, then I'd be happy with my body.  But I wasn't.  And I'm still not.

I have never really looked at my post-baby body with any feeling but dissatisfaction.  I don't see it as the amazing vessel that it is.  The body that grew from a little baby into a strong, healthy woman.  The body that carried me through a young marriage, a lonely divorce, and then led me into the arms of my soul mate. The body that conceived, carried, and gave birth to three marvelous little beings.  The body that fed each of those children all on its own for the first year of their lives.  The body that has given as much of itself as it can to those people ever since.  The body that survived those early years on little sleep.  The body that plays horsey, chases, flips, tickles, twists, and swings until their hearts are content.  The body that worries everyday over the impact of every decision.  The body that cuddles them, soothing every hurt.  The body that carries the burden of creating fulfilling lives for those children all upon itself.  The body that loves the people around me and lives to make them as happy as they can be.  The body has yet to fail me, no matter how much I ask of it.

Instead, I look at this body, and I tear it apart.  Every single day.  I see curves and lumps, where I want there to be muscle and bone.  I see wrinkles and sags where taut skin ought to be.  I see the stripes from carrying three large babies in a small frame.  I see the skin that has never quite gone back to the way it used to be.  I see the effects of nursing those children, how little of what I used to be is left.  When I sit, I feel my skin spill over my jeans in a way that it never did before I carried my children.  And with each flaw I pick out, I call my body the most hateful of words.  Usually just in my head.  But sometimes aloud.  Ugly.  Disgusting.  Fat.  Sometimes I spell it out, F-A-T, just so my girls won't know what I'm saying.  The way I talk about my body is not the way I would speak of anyone else's.  I teach my children that it's not nice to call people names, or to say someone is fat.  But I do it to myself every day.  

The people I love don't see me this way.  My husband loves the way my body looks.  My children often say I am cool, or pretty, or nuzzle up to me and tell me I'm soft.  They see me and my body, and they love what they see.  They don't see flaws;  they see a woman who loves them and gives herself to them and comforts them.  And they think that woman is just right the way she is.  I know in my heart that my body deserves more respect from me than I'm giving it.  My body is an incredible vehicle in which to experience my beautiful life.  And it is mine.  No one is going to respect it, if I don't respect it first.  I have to do it for myself,  and I've got to do it for my girls.  I know that they will treat their bodies the way they see me treat mine.  And I want them to like themselves, to love themselves.  Their whole selves.  Mind and body.  Today is a new start for me.  The day I start to see my body through a new set of eyes.  The eyes of my daughters.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Most Useless Place

{originally written in August 2012}

Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
-Dr. Seuss “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”

I find myself here lately.  At the waiting place.  Waiting for quiet time to write.  Waiting for it to cool off before I run.  Waiting for my baby to sleep through the night.  Waiting for my body to bounce back.  Waiting for tomorrow to start my diet again.  Waiting to wean my baby, so I can get a new tattoo.  Waiting to finish up one project, so I can move on to the one I just started.  Waiting until my house is just right.  Waiting until I’m thin enough.  Waiting until my hair is long enough.  Waiting for my 2 year old to outgrow the “trying twos”.  Waiting {or making my children wait} for me to finish up my long list of today’s to-do’s before I take the time to play with them.  Waiting for the perfect setting to be with my husband.  Waiting to call myself a writer until I am a published author.  Waiting to make new friends.  Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting.  Waiting to be happy.
When I was a little girl, I had a very clear picture of my adult life and how it would be.  It was neat and tidy, crisp and clear.  I had my perfect children, upon whom I doted and spent every waking {and possibly non-waking} hour cherishing, never yelling, never becoming frustrated, never wishing I could run away for a day, just to have a few unbroken moments to myself.  I saw myself happily married to my dream guy, the perfect husband, naturally. He was romantic, playful, a good provider, a perfect father.  Life would be perfect.
The things that are missing from that perfect picture are obvious to me now.  What qualities did I hope to bring to the table?  What things would I, myself do to create my own happiness?  Or would I simply wait for everyone around me to make me happy?  
I refuse to let my happiness be determined by others.  And I refuse to stay at the waiting place.  It’s lonely, and it sucks the life out of life.  Because you can’t live while you’re waiting.  You have to live actively, aggressively, passionately, purposefully.  Or not at all.  
Today, I chose, not to wait, but to live.  Tomorrow will bring it’s own roses and thorns, whether I anticipate them or not.

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