Saturday, April 30, 2011

Completely, totally random post on Natural Living

Tonight, my daughters and I were feeling especially silly so we were wrestling on the floor. As we got up from playing, I caught a whiff of some rather stinky body odor. I immediately checked my pits, (don't you love this post so far?) but I still smelled pretty fresh.

My kindergartner, however, did not.

How can someone so dang cute and sweet create such a stank?!?

I noticed this about her a while back and couldn't understand that she'd need deodorant already... but apparently, this is more common than I thought. She also has problem digesting milk so those root beer floats we had while we were out today probably didn't help at all. Still, I've been in denial about buying her anything.

After our wrestling tonight, I made her wash herself with soap and water but it didn't help at all. So I googled natural deodorant recipe and found one I had to try.

The three of us gathered supplies in the kitchen pantry to create our homemade deodorant:

1/8 cup baking soda
1/8 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch
about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil

At first, she was reluctant to try something that came from our baking cabinet but when I informed her that the best lotions are those that are safe enough to eat, she tried it.

Ooooooo... now SHE smells sweet enough to eat! Nom nom nom.

She's very happy to be rid of that smell. And now they both have a natural deodorant to use.

***

Speaking of coconut oil, have I ever told you guys how much I love this stuff? I bake with it AND use it for massage. I've used it in my hair, on my skin and in my pancakes.

Another favorite item in my house is apple cider vinegar. I add 2 cups of it to hot baths to rid my body of illness (hmmm... I'll have to do that tonight) or help with muscle relaxation. When I have a sore throat, I add it to water to gargle to kill bacteria. I've heard it used for everything from acne to warts. It even helps with dandruff. Google it. You'll be amazed.

Garlic - really good for your immune system

Cayenne - really good for metabolism AND a pain reliever for aching muscles

Baking soda - good to balance acid levels in the body that cause urinary tract infections

Fennel - excellent to calm colic or gas

Ginger - helps ease nausea

Yogurt - helps balance healthy bacteria in the body to promote good digestion and keep away yeast infections

Chamomile - calms the stomach AND gently eases the mind

Garlic in olive oil - great for soothing ear infections

Honey & lemon - calms a ticklish throat that causes coughs

Oats & honey - an soothing mask for your face

Egg white - another great facial mask

Seriously... I could go on and on. If there's someone hurting in this house, you can bet I'll be either hitting the kitchen cabinet or my homeopathic repetory book.

It's just how we do things around here.

Got any other great natural remedies? Would love to hear about them!

Also, I love this site too: 25 Natural Remedies in your kitchen. So much awesome information on so many great sites! I love the internet.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Being who I REALLY am

I've just returned from lunch with a close friend who is quickly moving up in the world. She handed me a magazine of which she is a contributing author and ambassador. She has, as she puts it, become "big in her britches". She's put herself out there again and again, been shat upon and bounced back. Now, she isn't so frightened anymore. She isn't so concerned with what others think.

She's told me her next move is to approach a prominent spiritual author in hopes of putting together a program with him. After all, what's the worst that can happen... he could say "no" or not respond at all?

The point is, she has the balls to try.

***

Gentleman Jack called me shortly thereafter to inform me that an assistant at his office has turned in her resignation. She has never been any sort of "assistant" to him... unless you say she's assisted in giving him angst. She's always been negative and even spiteful towards him.

"I'm just being me," he told me. "I know there are plenty of people who work very well with me. I'm excited to bring someone else in so that we can both be successful. Some people just don't like me, for whatever reason. I'm fine with that."

Her departure has reinvigorated his motivation to grow his business. I'm proud of him for standing his ground.

***

I've recently found out that I am the only biological daughter of my father. But I wouldn't have known that as a child. My father raised my siblings and I the same... with love. With acceptance.

I've been witness to amazing strength in those I know and my father was no exception. He was the same way as my friend and my Gentleman. He was who he was. With NO apologies. Take it or leave it.

I've been in sort of an identity crisis. It isn't that I don't know what I want to do. I do. But I keep making excuses. I keep reverting back to my people-pleasing, bend-over-backwards, don't rattle the cage, codependent personality. I'm terrified of being completely who I am. Or, more aptly, I'm terrified of not being accepted for being completely who I am.

***

One of the excuses/blocks I frequently come up against is that the name I carry isn't my own. I still have my ex-husband's name. My children's name.

I want to BE WHO I AM... like my friend, like my Gentleman, like my father. But I feel somewhat held back by the name I carry. With it, I feel boxed in, as if I'm carrying a huge responsibility.

I dropped my father's name in anger when he left my mother. Now I realize that he remained loving and consistent all during my silence and frustration. He deserves better. Unfortunately, posthumously but better late than never.

I'm considering dropping this name I've had for nearly 20 years and changing my name back to my family name... the name of my father and his father. That family name fits me and who I'm becoming much better than the name I carry now.

However, I'm concerned about how it will affect my children. I'm concerned about how it will affect my employment records and medical records and all kinds of records.

I don't want to feel tied down anymore. I want to be me. The Real Me.

Baby steps...


What about you? Did you keep your married name after divorce? Are you living completely authentically as you or do you also find yourself compartmentalizing depending on who you're around?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prank calls

This most recent Sunday, I was at home working on things around the house when I noticed some messages on my answering machine. They must have come in while I was at the store. I pressed play and as I listened, I couldn't help but giggle. My daughters were prank calling me from their dad's house:

Call #1:

Hello, this is Dr. Dufussmurf (giggles in the background). I'm here to tell you that you're crazy. Goodbye. Beep.

Call #2:
Hello, this is Dr. Buttocks. (more giggles) You had a butt appointment and you skipped it. It was on March 22nd. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (giggles) This is the doctor's office called Bunny Ears doctor's office. Please come for your butt appointment on the 27th. Have a nice day, ma'am.

Call #3:

Allo (in a great British accent) I'm Olivia Cord (giggles again). I'm here to tell you that you can come to our club and you could win a prize! You could get 4 tickets to the Justin Bieber concert! If you would like to enter, please give us your phone number and we will enter you in our contest and (indecipherable) club! Have a nice day, mum!

Call # 4:

Hello, I'm sorry about all those prank calls. We were just trying to have fun. It's me, (oldest daughter). Anyway, bye. Love you!

It was fun for me to listen to those calls. Such creativeness and individuality. They were having fun... AND thinking of me. They gave me a smile on my Easter Sunday.

Priceless.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One Night in the Life of a Single Parent

You all are totally not going to believe the night I had last night. It was so unbelievable that I have to laugh!

First of all, my sweetie had a fan-freakin-tastic weekend! He was a happy guy, through and through. *T does a happy dance.*

What is it about watching someone else be joyous that you can't help but join in?

We were on the phone and I was barely talking because ugh, I'm still fighting this damn cold. I'm at the point where I feel like I'm choking on... well, you know... nasty crap. I can barely talk without wanting to cough. I was letting him do all the talking. It was fun!

Then, just as I was saying my I love you and Sweet Dreams, he said, "Did you get my card?"

What card?

"Dammit! I didn't want to tell you! I wanted you to be surprised!" I love that he can't keep a secret from me.

I crawled back out of bed to check the mail because, hey, my guy sent me a card! It was an awesome get well card. Awwwwwwwww! Yeah, I was doing another happy dance after that. Then we got all mushy and stuff on the phone. I'll spare you the details.

I hung up the phone, unfortunately right around midnight, turned off my lamp and snuggled into my covers. I was fighting the urge to break into an all out coughing fit when I felt a shadow next to my bed.

"Mommy, my ear hurts."

My poor oldest child was suffering, and the kid's got a heck of pain tolerance. So, back out bed again and to the homeopathic remedies. Found a perfect remedy to begin the healing and gave her a dose of Tylenol too. She snuggled up in bed with me then and tried to go back to sleep.

Meanwhile, I did erupt into a coughing frenzy. I'm not good at self-prescribing with homeopathy (especially with coughs) so I took some strong cough medicine to knock it out. The next thing I know, my stomach is burning.

Cough medicine, for a girl who rarely takes medicine, AND on an empty stomach = NOT a good idea.

Now, not only was I fighting a child squirming in my bed, a ruthless cough but also a stomach that had me doubled over in pain. I decided to drink some milk to help with the empty stomach. All this time my dog was following me around when she'd normally be sleeping soundly. She finally had enough and wanted to go outside.

Where it was storming.

I drank the milk but soon found myself even sicker to my stomach. I was monitoring my daughter and making trip after trip to the bathroom. I finally got her settled back in to her bed, feeling better. But I wasn't.

Now my cough had settled into my chest where it felt like I was having trouble breathing. Sheesh.

I looked at the clock. 3:30 a.m.

I let the dog in the house and dried her off. I crawled back into the covers with a heating pad on my rumbling tummy. Just as I settled back in, the dog rang her bell to go back outside again.

Did I mention it was storming?

Uggggggggggggg.... I let her back out. I figured evolution meant she could fend for herself somehow. I ran to the bathroom again before trying to settle under the covers once more.

Ahhhh.... it was 4 a.m. I was finally going to be able to sleep. Then, an hour later, my sprinkler system went off.

Did I mention it was storming?

*sigh*

For the next hour, rather than getting up to turn off the sprinkler, I laid in bed and thought about how I judge people who run their sprinklers when it's raining. Maybe they're just too damn lazy to get out of bed. Or too tired.

1 hour of sleep.

I'm not thinking that's going to do any wonders for my already weakened immune system.

But seriously, it's like the sandman was pissed off at me or something... And maybe I'm laughing because I'm flat out delirious.

**please excuse the rambling nature of this post. delirium has set in. **

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mission Accepted: Be a better Me

Between being home due to illness most of last week, and then being child-free/Gentleman Jack-free this weekend, I've felt quite introspective and isolated the past few days.

In the past month, 3 of my single parent bloggy friends have announced breakups with their significant others: Spencer, Nicki and Danielle. I'm not going to lie... that messed with my head a bit. (Okay, for those that know me in real life - you know I'd say, "That shit fucked me up!")

After all, I've been hormonal. And Gentleman Jack's been depressed. When we're together, ahhhh... it's really nice. We have fun. However, we're both so sensitive and touchy right now. To ourselves and to each other. So of course, we're both reading in to each others' moods too. Being long distance both helps and doesn't at the same time.

He's going to handle his touchiness his way. It may not always be the way I handle mine but hey, we're different. And he's a man. I'm most definitely female. We're both trying to allow each other our moodiness right now without taking it personally. Ya know that whole Be Compassionately Indifferent thing I wrote about a while back?

Thankfully, he has past knowledge to realize that I'll get over it when my hormones balance out again. And I have past knowledge that fucks with my head even more.... but I'm doing my best to not allow my past relationships to dictate my present and future relationships. I'm working on it. Did I mention that I'm female?

Okay, what I mean to say is that I know that a long term relationship has its cycles. I was married for well over a decade to a man who taught me that every time we hit a low. He was right in his assessment of the temporary nature of the disconnect but even still, every time we were there, I panicked. It seemed like I had to go through mini-breakups in my mind just to get back on track again. I'd pull away, mourn and then we'd grow closer again.

Geez, I don't want to be that way. I'm tired of fear and panic. Somewhere, I've lost touch and am feeling disconnected again. Not with my Gentleman. I mean, yes, I worry about losing our connection... especially when I see others losing their connections. Relationships are such fragile things, aren't they?

The only thing I can control is how I handle me. I'm disconnected with ME.

***

I spent Friday evening at the bookstore, snuggled up in a chair, reading an entire book. I thought of my friends who are mourning relationships. And I thought of my own fears and panic.

This book clarified some things for me. It's leading me down a path that I've tiptoed across many times in my life. I think, if I can stick to the path, it will help me in so many ways.

The book is called: Women Who Love Too Much.

I am codependent.

I am addicted to love, pleasing others, feeling needed. I've known this about myself for some time but always skirted around it. My spiritual journey has helped me in many ways but I lapse on it just as I do my exercise regimen. I know I'm not as bad as I once was, I've learned far too much. I would, however, like to continue to help myself, to allow my feelings, to feel even more accepting of who I really am.

Thankfully, and even more ironically, my Gentleman has been the biggest supporter of this mission to be ME.


I will be exploring this more in the coming weeks and possibly months. I will be reading and seeking help. I will be doing my best to recognize the traits, fears and insecurities of being codependent with the hopes of building a healthy, positive relationship... with others, yes.... but more than that, with myself.

I hope you'll follow along and support me as I continue to grow in this classroom.

Thank you ALL for being my teachers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paying for some priceless moments

I've been stuck in bed with a cold since Monday evening. It's very isolating and yet peaceful at the same time. I have never been nor do I claim to be a nice person when I don't feel well. Nonetheless, I would love to have someone to take care of me.

Yes, that was me, whining.

***

I think I've noticed a pattern lately. Weekends kick my ass.

I go into my weekends with gusto, full of energy and ready to enjoy every moment. Those moments may be as challenging as a long bike ride or a 5K run (of which I was 14 seconds late of 1st place in my age group this past weekend!). Or some moments are filled with laziness, chores and/or errands. Others I try to fill with a healthy balance of fun and domestic duties when the kids are around.

Even still, I find when Monday comes around, I have difficulty adjusting. So, I should have known better when I decided to really push it this most recent Sunday.

***

The kids and I were packed up at Gentleman Jack's house Sunday afternoon. The bags were in the car. The dog was ready to go. The kids were... well, the kids were playing in Jack's boat in the carport.

"Can we PUH-LEEZE go fishing?!?" was the chorus I was hearing from not only my girls, but Jack's little one as well. Jack shot me a "you know I can't resist an opportunity to go fishing" look. And I shot back a "well, I could drive us home in the middle of the night because the kids would be sleeping but that's completely crazy and would you please talk me out of it" look.

The kids won.


So, we hit the river to look for gators and introduce the kids to fishing. The smiles, laughter and glee as each child pulled in not one but several fish was utterly priceless. Sharing the natural beauty of the river, the blooming and fragrant honeysuckle, the beaver dams, the cranes and wood ducks, and deep throated sounds of bullfrogs thrilled my senses. Watching my children bond with Jack and seeing the absolute pride on my man's face with every successful catch was such a pleasure. Watching the sunset... and the HUGE full moon rise over the river was completely breathtaking. The cool, windy ride back to the dock, with all three kids in the bottom of the boat giggling, and my man's warm arms around me... golden.



I kept all of that in mind as I drove 3 1/2 hours home in the middle of the night. The kids and the dog were snoozing contentedly. I was listening to a few cds and singing along to stave off the complete exhaustion I felt. Visions of my bed were beckoning me the whole drive.

I finally crashed into the covers at 2 a.m.

I barely made it through Monday when, yep, you guessed it... I got sick.

But it was worth it. It totally was. I just need to remember how weekends suck the life outta me. And maybe not plan much for Monday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A message in quotes

Over the weekend, I saw a few movies, heard a few songs, read a few things... and I picked up on some quotes that seemed to be reiterating the same message.

Rather than me filling in the blanks as they apply to ME, I thought I'd leave them up for YOUR interpretation.

How do you think these quotes apply - either to me or you?

Can you detect a common theme here?


(And P.S. There are no wrong answers!)

"Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"
~ Evan Almighty

"If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation. This is the first step on the path."
~ Pema Chodron

"The thing about perfection is that it's unknowable. It's impossible, but it's also right in front of us all the time."
~ TRON:Legacy

"Hold your own, know your name, go your own way. And everything will be fine."
~Jason Mraz, Details in the Fabric

Friday, April 15, 2011

He consoles me... even when I don't make sense to myself

Last night, I sat in the hallway of my house crying.

The dog was crawling in my lap trying to get me to play with her. The house was completely dark. The kids were at their dads so, other than the annoying puppy gnawing at my hand, I was alone.

In the meanwhile, hail was raining down from the sky. Lightning flashes brightened the room every few seconds. Thunder roared. My windows sounded like they could shatter at any moment from the quarter-sized ice bombs. And I was scared.

While I was scared, I also became angry. Then I was sad.

It's been a whirlwind of emotions for me lately but I've kept them to myself. Most days I'm happy and upbeat. I think it's the triathlon training that's helping me. Then, in the blink of an eye, my mood can shift to apathy or anger.

My mood shift seemed perfectly justified last night. I was scared of the storm. (Which is odd. I usually love storms.) Then I was angry that my Gentleman wasn't with me to hold me and make me not scared. Then I was sad because I missed my dog, Kodi.

I tried to explain this to Gentleman Jack:

T: I was mad because you couldn't put a giant umbrella over my house and keep me safe. Epic fail, man! *giggle*

GJ: Aw. I'm sorry baby!

T: But then I realized that I don't feel as connected to this dog as I did my last dog. Kodi was scared to death of storms and she would stay by my side the whole time. I also remembered that it was during a storm that I found the tumor on her neck. Just 2 months later I had to put her down because of cancer....

GJ: Baby, that's not fair to your pup. She's still very young. Kodi was much older and that's what you're remembering. But Kodi's gone now. You can't compare your puppy to the dog you had for 10 years.

T: I know you're right. It's just been weird for me lately because my emotions have been all over the place. I feel good and then sad and then I just don't give a flip about anything.

GJ: Can I tell you something that will, I hope, give you some comfort? You haven't fully settled into the new hormones in your body since you had that IUD inserted. Of course, it's affecting you physically and emotionally. But doesn't that give you some comfort to know it's not you... and that once your body adjusts to it, you'll find your normal again?

T: Ya know, that's much of the reason I've kept my feelings to myself. I know it's related to that IUD.

GJ: By the way, I love that I'm a part of your "self" that you keep things to. I feel very lucky that way.

T: *swoon* You're funny. But yes, I guess you are part of my "self". And by the way, what man does that? What man tells a woman that she's hormonal in the gentle way that you do? What man says, "take comfort in knowing you're just hormonal"?! Dude! *laughs*

GJ: *laughing* A man who lives 3 hours away from it, that's who!

Ok, I'll give him that. I was happy to be 3 hours away from his financial crisis and he's happy to be 3 hours away from my hormonal craziness. Along the way, though, it's nice to know that we have each others' back.... even if we can't put an umbrella over the other to keep them from fear.

Unconditional love and support is always welcome.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Be honest

Though I'm trying to stop giving unsolicited advice, my advice is sometimes solicited. I'm working on listening more... and allowing others to talk themselves through their problems.

Sometimes, however, I'm amazed that the answer to the problem is pretty simple.

Be honest.

***

Be honest with yourself

If you're feeling a feeling, allow that feeling. It doesn't mean pull anyone into the feeling with you. But feel it. In your own space. Ask for space from others so that you can embrace it.


Part of you is a quiet observer who realizes the feeling is only temporary. The quiet observer is waiting patiently while you process the feeling. The longer you hold on to reasons for the feeling, the longer the feeling will hang around.

Don't analyze why, just be. Be mad. Be frustrated. Be pissy. Be sad. Be tired. Be jealous. Be envious. Be judgmental. Be disappointed.

And don't feel bad for feeling it. Feel it. All the way to your core. It doesn't matter why. It just is.

Then the quiet observer will say simply, "Enough." And the feeling will pass.

***

Be honest with others

Sometimes, we're feeling a feeling that won't let go. And as much as we're "enlightened" enough to realize I'm choosing to feel this way, there are times when people just hurt us.

Words hurt. Actions hurt. Silence hurts.


So... SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Don't go passive aggressive. Don't lie down and allow someone to continue to hurt you because then, you ARE choosing to feel this way. Speak up! If you're not honest with them, how will they know? If you're not saying anything, they won't realize you have a boundary or that you're assuming something or that your perception is different than theirs.

You can be honest with kindness but always remember to allow others their own reaction or hurt too. Maybe it's you that has to "hurt" someone. Tough love is never fun but it is still love.

Once you have spoken up, however, you will be heard. You will then KNOW rather than assume. Knowledge is power.

***

Be honest with your higher self

Follow your bliss. Honor yourself. Know your truth. Learn how to ask for what serves you. Learn how to say no. Find your boundaries. Remember your inner joy. Allow your happy.


No one else will do it for you.

***

If I could convince the world to follow this simple rule, I have to wonder if there'd be a need for advice anymore. Gosh... if only I could remember this same advice myself 100% of the time!

Workin' on it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In the middle


Over the weekend, I went on my first bike ride of this spring season. Honestly, I hadn't been on the bike, not even training in my home, in months. I hadn't ridden outside in even longer! I was a bit nervous when my cycling group asked me to go for a 35-40 mile bike ride.

I knew I could do it. But I knew I'd be slow and I'd feel it the next day.

When I arrived, I was greeted with lots of hugs and smiles. I used to work with most of those guys, back in my bad ass IT days. They hadn't seen me in a very long time.

As I suspected, within the first 5 miles, they left me in their dust. They've been training for an upcoming century. They ride at least twice a week. Plus they're all men. I was a block back, huffing and puffing and trying to catch up to the group.

They pulled aside for a short stop and waited for me. (Thank goodness!) One of the guys, a well trained and super fast cyclist, instructed the group:

"Keep T in the middle. No matter what. In the middle."

I was amazed at the difference. Not only was I keeping pace with them... but it was EASY. I wasn't even breathing hard.

I didn't understand how it was possible. Several of them explained that not only was I drafting behind those in front of me, but those behind me were also pushing me to go faster. All around me, they were also blocking the harsh winds we fought the entire ride.

I'd always been afraid to cycle in the middle of such groups because I didn't want to slow anyone down... or crash into anyone should they stop suddenly.

These instincts were tested during our ride when the group came to a very quick halt in front of me. I slammed on the brakes with little time to clip out my cycling shoes and aimed for the grassy median to break my fall. As I learned when I initially began cycling, sometimes you're going to fall... but can you fall with the least amount of pain?

Besides, I was trying to stop this from happening:


It was all good. I shook it off while being cheered on by my team. They were impressed at my "dive from the bike" into the grass.

After our ride we enjoyed some great post-ride carbing of burgers and beer. And laughs... lots and lots of laughs.

***

Biking with that group reminded me of what it was like to work with them.

Just as they inspired me and helped me to grow by keeping me in the middle of our cycling group, they did the same back then, when we were a tight-knit team of systems administrators.

They surrounded me, as part of the group, to protect me from the harsh winds of company politics and blame from other groups for IT issues. They pushed me further, by being more experienced and knowledgeable. I was ever-grateful for one-on-one time with the senior levels of the team. They taught me so much. And I, being in the middle, taught those who joined the group after me. I had to keep pace there.

And it seemed EASY.

***

I am thankful for the time with those guys. I am happy that we're still so close. All of us still declare, in the decade plus since we worked together, that we've never been part of another team THAT GOOD.

I sure do miss that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Influences

I had to buy a new blender last week because Gentleman Jack broke my other one making margaritas.

Well, ok, not really. It was actually dying a slow death for a while and he happened to be the last person using it.

Anyway, the next morning, I'm making a smoothie in my new kick-ass blender as my daughter walks in the kitchen for breakfast.

"Hey, Mom! Daddy has that same blender!"

It's not the first time I've heard that Daddy has the same anything that I have. I suspect it won't be the last time either. I was with the man for 20 years - over 1/2 my life by the time we divorced - and lived with him for 13 of those 20 years. We practically grew up together, refined tastes together, influenced each other.

From him I learned all sorts of things. Good things like sex and how to cook and how to appreciate good wine and martinis. Together we learned how to buy, maintain and sell a house, how to balance a budget to pay off debt, how to live with someone completely differently than you.

Just as with my siblings and parents, we learned together and from each other.

Sure, I learned some bad things as well. Occasionally fears are triggered or past patterns acknowledged. But instead of focusing on the negative influences in my life, I like to think about the positive things I learned from not only my ex, but all of those that have touched my life in some way.

***

I have always been attracted to people I can learn from. I think we're all drawn to people for that reason, right? I would almost go out on a limb to say that I actively CHOOSE people that are different from me simply so I can learn something new. I am eager to learn a new hobby or a new culture or why soldiers go to war or what makes hunters hunt or how to appreciate watching sports, and so on. Those are the influences I choose.

Unfortunately, some of the influential lessons were not chosen by me. Those are the little surprises from the Universe. Those are the little challenges that I'm subconsciously choosing. Those things teach me my strength and my weaknesses. Those things challenge my faith and remind me that I'm not alone even when it seems that I am. Those are the things from which, when I gently lean into them, rather than fight them, I learn the most valuable lessons and glean the most wisdom.

***

Over the weekend, I went out with my cycling group and did a good 35 mile bike ride. That same day, Gentleman Jack went out with some of his friends to participate in a skeet shooting tournament. I had to smile thinking about that. We're so damn different.

I LOVE IT. I love our differences. Sure, there are times I wish he'd hop on a bike or do a yoga class with me... and who knows, maybe one day he will. In the meanwhile, we're still growing on each other and influencing each other.

He will go for walks with me and try natural medicine and watch spiritual movies and cheer me on at my triathlons. I may never kill an animal with a shotgun (yikes!) but I will go fishing with him and eat more red meat and try golfing and cheer him on when he cooks me a scrumptious meal of duck or deer or dove so he can enjoy that "manly-man" feeling he loves so much.

I'd like to think I'm aware of the other lessons I'm learning as well. I try to capture them all here. Still, there may be more there than I'm currently aware... and that's ok.

We will again be celebrating our differences this next weekend when I'm running a 5K and he's off competing in a fishing tournament. Those differences add so much character to our relationship. It's ever-evolving and always interesting.

In the time we've been together and from all my relationships I've learned: different influences add a deeper dimension to the many ways we are the same.

We are, all of us, affecting each other all the time.

Don't you agree it makes life so much more colorful?


"I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap."
~ Ani DiFranco

"Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul on another.
~ George Eliot

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Compassionately Indifferent

I was casually thumbing through a magazine that a co-worker left on my desk when I saw it. Exactly the advice that I needed to see:

"Be compassionately indifferent."

And that is my challenge.

***

You see for the past several weeks, I've struggled with my man's depression. I've read books, sought out advice and struggled with what I should be doing. Not only have I noticed the heaviness from him, but family expectations are wearing me down as well. Most of last year, I also felt this from many of my friends going through their own struggles. It seems quite obvious that I am a solver of problems.

What I've been trying to identify, this week, is whether I gave myself that title or if it was given to me. The reason being is that when I cannot solve a problem, when I do not see the other person happy at all, I have a feeling of worthlessness. That feeling ultimately leads to my pulling away from them in order to self-protect.

***

When I look back over my history, both in my family, in friendships and in relationships, I've noticed this trend. Often my advice is sought out, heard and then discarded for the decision that was ALREADY made prior to asking me. More often, in my romantic relationships (because they affect me too), I offer advice, help, and my unsolicited opinion which is also discarded for the same reason.

Sometimes, my help and advice has caused a defensive reaction such as:

"You're too good. Too perfect. You do nothing wrong."

"You make me feel like crap. You're so good to me and I can never offer you what you give."

"Do you not have any faith in me at all?

The difference, that I'm conscious of and actively working on, is that I'm learning to back off. I'm learning the art of allowing.

I'm learning to allow others their feelings and struggles. Those things are temporary. I cannot make anyone happy; it is up to them. I cannot make someone stop hurting themselves. It is up to them. I do know this. If I forget, in the case of family, friends or even with my man, he advises gently, "Allow".

It is great advice... and heeding it always makes me feel better.

***

The challenge, I've found recently, is that when I "allow", when I do what I can to self-protect, I often feel as if I'm abandoning someone who's hurting.

This feeling comes from disconnecting from the person who's hurting, not completely, but removing myself just enough that my brain isn't actively trying to "fix their issue." It is an emotional disconnect - which is easier to handle with some people and more difficult with others. In order to honor me, I have to let go of them in some way. This both frightens me and helps me.

I also understand that much of what is driving me insane isn't only that they're hurting... but that I have no control over their behavior. I can't make them handle a situation the way I think I'd handle it. I can't make them see things the way I see them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, their own perception, their own struggles, their own emotions, their own path.

Why is it that I think I have all the answers?

And why is it that I believe tough love isn't still love?

***

"Be compassionately indifferent."

I really, REALLY like this quote. It means give love but step away from expectation. It means allow, accept, trust, bless.

I like it. I hope it sticks.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life Labyrinth



Yesterday, after I dumped my worries on the blog, the kids and I went out for a dinner of burgers and ice cream. My youngest was dolled up in her old ballerina costume and a pair of my heels. How could I not smile at her absolute joie de vivre and the smiles she received from everyone we encountered? My oldest daughter was just as proud... because SHE'S the one who dolled up her sister. She's my little fashion designer.

On the drive back home, we drove past a church. I don't attend this church but I love the prayer garden behind it. Sometimes, I stop there just to sit, breathe and ponder. I thought for a second and decided to introduce one of my favorite spots to my daughters.

Part of the prayer garden is a small trail that includes the 15 Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross are points along Jesus' journey from His condemnation, to carrying the cross, to His crucifixion and finally His resurrection. I'm not a religious person, as you well know, but after growing up Catholic, I have a special place in my heart for this quiet meditation.

I had no idea my daughters would immediately take to it but they loved each resting place along the trail. They loved the carved stones of Jesus and each Biblical quote. With no prompting, they instinctively began kneeling at each stone, saying the same little prayer each time. They loved the story and how it relates to real life now, in them and every person. They were enamored with every step and every station. They listened in awe about the journey and His bravery. They connected with it realizing that they too will stumble and they too will be hurt by people in life and they too will be helped by strangers and they too will have opportunities to forgive.

My heart was nearly bursting.



The center of the prayer garden is a stone labyrinth. I told the girls to follow the paved stones and they would eventually be in the center of the labyrinth. "Along the way", I told them, "you pray and send love to all of those people you care about."

Silently and deliberately, we walked the path. Sometimes, as we'd pass each other, we'd giggle. I thought about every heavy feeling I'd experienced earlier that day. More than that, however, I simply enjoyed watching my daughters along their own paths.

Once we all arrived in the center of the labyrinth, each of us said prayers and gave thanks. I also took some amazing pictures of my sweet girls kneeling, eyes closed, hands together in humble prayer. I fell a little more in love with motherhood in that moment.

As we were leaving the prayer garden, we stopped to take the picture at the top of this post. It's a prayer that fits perfectly. It's a prayer that my daughters asked that I frame for their bedroom wall. I found it online and am posting it here... for them... for me... and for you.

"Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path... exactly where you are meant to be right now... And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love."
~ Caroline Adams

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Take this with a Grain of Salt

No elaborate, well thought out, inspiring post here. My head hurts. My body hurts. My heart hurts. Remember how I warned you all I'd be exhausted by tonight?

I'm sure all of that is contributing to my low mood... and I loathe to bring anyone down but dammit, I'm trying to learn to embrace how I feel when I feel it so take this post as you will. Nothing positive here, really. It probably won't even be well written because I'm just dumping while the kids come in and out of the room.

Here goes...

  1. I don't feel well. I drank heavily last night, which wasn't really fun because I never caught any sort of "buzz"... Ok, I started to catch a buzz but it was harshed quickly with the conversation.

  2. The conversation centered around my teen niece. My mom, her husband, and my brother came over to cookout yesterday and they showed up with my niece. She is my sister's oldest and, therefore, my first child too. I love that kid. I love everything about her. I haven't seen her in close to a year and she lives IN TOWN. Then, to see her so hurt, so angry, so beat down from my sister's situation KILLED me. She has to live there and deal with it every day. It took everything I had not to haul everyone to my sister's house for an all out intervention.

  3. My brother referred to me last night as the "family CEO". As I've mentioned here many times before, I both love and hate that. My family looks to ME to lead... looks to ME for instruction on how to handle things... looks to ME to be the strong one. I'm carrying that weight even more today.

  4. My Gentleman was so happy this weekend. I loved it. He was wonderfully supportive last night too, when I was red-faced and pacing during our family conversation. I HATE feeling helpless and he was freakin' awesome at holding me up.

  5. I hated to say goodbye to him just now because I'm scared he'll go right back into depression again. I've been trying to encourage him to create a birthday manifesto for this next year of his life. I've been trying to encourage him to get back to his gym routine he had when we initially began dating. I've been trying to uplift him with so much gratitude for being a stellar boyfriend and best friend. But he takes my encouragement as me telling him he's not perfect, that he'll never get back to taking care of himself, that I don't trust his strength. Then he defensively suggests that I must think I'm perfect since I'm actually feeling happy with myself. Then I stop talking and change the subject. I'm trying not to feel helpless there. I'm trying to back off and allow him to figure it out for himself. However, this depression is affecting him in all sorts of ways that, guess what, affect me too. When I admit that, he feels even more shitty. Am I being selfish?

  6. This new birth control has made me a bit more hormonal. So... I'm sure that's not helping matters either.

  7.  My house was ALIVE with people all weekend. My family and I even pulled out a musical evening jam session last night. We had a blast. Gentleman Jack loving me, holding me, making me feel like a bad ass singer again. Now my house is nearly empty and feels oh so lonely. Now it's back to focusing on my life and my stuff. Sometimes, I feel very disconnected from my man because he's buried and I'm buried and I just want to feel him holding my hand like he does when we're together. All day and all night in his sleep too. I miss him. I hate this.

You know what that means, right? It means I'm not focusing on the love right in front of me. I'm sure I will continue processing all of the above this week. I hope to have some sort of revelation but who knows. I may just have to let it go.

Right now, I'm going to dry these tears and haul my kids to the ice cream parlor for some burgers and sundaes. Ice cream is always good for a low mood, right? That and some good mommy snuggles.

Thanks for listening, ya'll.