He’s making me walk

The last couple of posts have been a bit intense.  I know.  It’s been a bit dark and dreary.  Several people have checked in on me to make sure I was okay and to encourage me.  What a wonderful thing to have so many people in my life care for me and to reach out to me.  A huge and needed blessing.  Thank you.

I was talking with my bff (seriously, we’ve actually been best friends forever) yesterday and realized that I may be giving off the wrong impression of my life.  I love my life.  Adore my life.  Would honestly pick my life over anyone else’s.  My husband is amazing.  My son is an incredible gift and joy.  I have fantastic friends and such a loyal family.  My life is really, truly great.

It’s because of that support system that I have the freedom to blog with such honesty.  And yes, everything I say comes from an honest and real place.  It’s me at my core.  Sometimes that means it’s dark, sometimes that means it’s happy.  Or funny.  Or even silly.  But it’s always me.

This morning I was journaling and I’d like to share a small excerpt that perfectly describes where I’m at:

I’m on a beautiful journey.  Even though I cry and bleed and lay down on the path in exhaustion, it’s where I want to be.  God is leading my life.  He’s holding my hand but He’s making me walk.

Thank you for being part of my journey and encouraging me so completely.

Selflessness

Let go.  Die to self.  Be selfless. Think of others needs before your own.

I hear those phrases all the time.  Dished out like some sort of cure-all prescription on how to live a fulfilled and happy life.  But how is it actually done?  Does it mean you let others walk all over you?  Does it mean you don’t care for yourself?  Don’t protect yourself?  I used to think that.  I used to believe that the only way to be selfless was to let people have the upper hand.  To deny myself the very things that made me who I am.

That line of thinking has always seemed wrong to me but I couldn’t grasp such an abstract idea.  So instead of trying to understand it and deal with it, I just pushed it to the back of my mind and made a half-hearted attempt at being selfless.  Of dying to myself.  Of letting go.

As my journey through motherhood continues, I’ve had to come face-to-face with this issue more times than I can count.  Babies doesn’t care if you’re sick.  Babies don’t care if you stayed up too late last night.  Toddlers aren’t aware that you are completely drained.  They don’t realize that playing cars on the couch is mind-numbingly boring after 10 minutes.  They have no concept of their needs not being of the highest priority.  And why should they?  We are their protectors and providers.  We have the responsibility of their lives in our untrained hands.

More often than not, Kai’s needs win out over mine.  And I haven’t been the most gracious of losers.  I fight the loss of control.  The loss of my needs being met.  There are times I resent Kai for needing me so completely.  For challenging me to be selfless when it’s the last thing I want to do.

As I walk this path, I’m starting to see that dying to self isn’t cutting off who I am or ignoring my emotional/physical/spiritual needs.  It’s letting things roll off my back.  It’s not caring about my reputation.  It’s releasing my pride.  My status.  My place.  It’s giving up the thing that I really want to be doing (reading, sleeping, writing, spending time with friends, looking “cool”) to tend to the needs of others.  It’s rocking my sick toddler in the middle of the night, allowing my toddler to be heard even if it’s not convenient, massaging my husband’s seizing back, cooking dinner even when I’m exhausted, not letting the shame of a public temper-tantrum change how I respond to my son.  Selflessness is allowing other people to be themselves in all their good and bad, and not being offended or embarrassed by it.  To love the beauty and flaws completely.

For me that’s being selfless.

 

 

My truth

I’ve been catching up on a lot of the blogs that I haven’t had time to read the past couple months.  Which actually means almost all of them.  As I was reading these wonderful, beautiful blogs I was suddenly overcome with emotion.  I started tearing up and feeling the urge to sob out loud.  Definitely not a normal response to online reading.  The posts weren’t sad or depressing, far from it actually.  Just normal happy posts about their lives and what they’re up to.

So why did I feel so overcome with emotion?

I had to sit and really dwell on this question before I finally found my answer.  I feel left behind.  I feel stuck.  I feel there’s no way I can get through today much less next week.  It seems like everyone else is doing totally fine.  Better than fine.  They’re doing fantastic.  Beautiful pictures of kids and completed (and successful) DIY projects, happy moments, joyful lives, living their dreams.

Is everyone really doing that well?  Or is it all a facade?

While the world seems to be whistling a happy tune, I’m cracking.  Not around my edges but through my middle.  Most days I feel like a cracked windshield; one more rock chip and I’m going to completely shatter.

Maybe this is why I’ve been silent on my blog for so long.  Things are falling apart and I haven’t had the energy to pretend it’s not.  I can’t summon enough “happy content” to write a post.  And if I do have a wonderful day or even a wonderful moment (sometimes that’s all I’ve got) I want to enjoy it instead of trying to get you all to believe that that’s my everyday life.

A close friend of mine was recently sharing her frustration with people’s updates on Facebook.  She noticed that almost every update has to do with making our lives look better than they are.  Boasting something or playing up the truth.  I don’t think it’s necessarily on purpose but I know am completely guilty of it.  I want people to think my life is one to be desired.  I want people to like me.  To think I’m fabulous.  To think that I’ve got it all together.  Which is why I post, “Enjoying a glass of red at my favorite wine bar while reading a great book.”  Instead of “While sobbing I called my husband and begged him to come home early from work so I could escape the house and indulge in alcohol so I could escape the horror of my toddler.”

No one wants to be that honest.  I don’t want to be that honest!  It’s too raw.  It’s too close to home.  And it’s way too scary.

But it’s my truth.  I can’t hide behind my “I’ve-got-it-all-together-and-everything-is-figured-out” facade any longer.  It takes way too much energy.  So there it is.  My truth.  Brace yourselves everyone.

This is what I needed to hear today

Today was an extremely hard day but thanks to a very dear friend I think I’m gonna be alright.  Then I randomly stumbled across a blog and read this post that was clearly written for me.  It is EXACTLY what I needed to read today.

Dear mom who feels like she is failing,

I hope it speaks to your heart if you’re dealing with the chaos of motherhood.

xoxo

I haven’t forgotten

I know I know I know.  I haven’t posted anything of value in a very long time.  I just want you to know I haven’t forgotten about all of you.  I’ve been taking some time for myself and working on some issues that will make me a better mom/friend/person.  And I’ve been enjoying the summer.  Lots of sunshine and parks and playgrounds and sunscreen.  It’s been (mostly) blissful.

I’ll get back to writing soon but just taking a break to relax and enjoy life.

xoxo

27 days

It’s been 27 days!  I haven’t posted anything in almost a month!  How can that be?  What have I been doing?  And why don’t I feel guilty about completely forgetting about my blog?

Since my last post I finished this book by Brene’ Brown and it has seriously changed my life.  And I’m not just saying that… it has LITERALLY changed my entire life.  You should totally buy the book.  Or listen to Brene’s Ted Talks here, here, and here.  What I have learned from this book deserve its own post, or multiple posts, but for now you should check out her talks and her books.  Life changing people!

I Thought It Was Just Me (But it isn’t)

And as for the rest of my time?  I’ve been spending some quality time with my son:

Bubbles are amazing!  Kai can’t get enough of them.

Lots and lots of coloring.

Watching the “pop-pop” maker.

Helping make pizza for dinner.

Painting and driving in chocolate “mud” (aka pudding).

What a mess!! And boy what fun!

It takes a village

A friend and I were recently talking about the “It takes a village to raise a child” concept.  It was a short conversation but it really got me thinking about that idea.  I’ve heard it tossed around and discussed but I’ve never really contemplated what it means and how that belief affects my life and the life of my family.

Whenever I hear that phrase I get this mental picture of me standing on the porch of my home in the suburbs watching my well-dressed and perfectly adorable children playing in the front yard.  They’re riding their brand new bikes or looking closely at a butterfly or ladybug that has landed on my perfectly manicured flowerbed.  But then one of the kids decides to be naughty by throwing a rock into the street or pushing the other sibling down.  That’s right when Old Mrs. Miller is strolling along the sidewalk and promptly, but gently, rebukes the naughty child.  The child quickly bows their head in regret and apology.  Old Mrs. Miller sees me on the porch and calls out a greeting, before continuing on her way.  I smile over my mug of hot tea and thank God for such wonderful “village”.

That’s the picture I get in my head every single time I hear that phrase.  Seriously.  But what does the phrase mean when we don’t live in the suburbs nor have well-dress, perfectly adorable children?  Not to mention nothing close to a perfectly manicured yard.  And what about when Old Mrs. Miller turns out to be my scary, alcoholic neighbor or the rude business woman in the grocery store line that simply can’t tolerate the fact that I would allow my son’s face to be covered in dried banana goop (which I promise I didn’t notice until I got to the car).  And if someone actually did correct my child without my consent?  I would become a terrifying mama-bear and might possibly growl at them.

What happens if I don’t agree with my village?  Or they with me?

I processed and struggled and wrestled with this idea of a village raising my son.   Question upon question upon question.

Finally, the first reasonable answer came to me.  No one gets to be in our “village” unless Nate and I give them permission.  This is often done simply by who we already have surrounding us.  Our family.  Our friends.  Our church.  I don’t let just anyone speak into my life and the same goes for who I allow to influence my child.

The second answer came in the form of an epiphany of sorts.  I have updated the phrase to coincide with my light bulb idea.  It’s a little lengthy but I think it sums it up quite nicely:

“It takes a village to encourage, listen, cry with, struggle with, advise, share with, and support a MOM who has to raise a child.”

I need much more support and encouragement than I ever thought I would need.  If I didn’t have my amazing group of moms (yes, I refer to them as “my” moms) then I don’t think I would have survived this long.  They are helping me raise my child through ministering to me.  For loving me when I succeed and loving me even more when I make mistakes.  They are a huge part of my village and I’m happy to claim them.

Let me count thy lies

“If I just had _______________, then I would _________________.”

Nate and I have a long standing joke about me saying the above phrase with different things inserted in the blanks as I try and convince him to let me buy/obtain/do whatever I’m wanting at that moment in time.

Examples:

better knifes / cook more
new runners / exercise more
a nicer dayplanner / be better organized
voice lessons / be the next Sarah McLachlan
etc, etc, etc

I spent years saying that until Nate finally pointed out how ridiculous it was because I hardly ever followed through on my promise.  Now I say it to get a laugh from him or when I want something completely frivolous and silly.  I’ve learned so much about myself over the past years and finally realized that if I’m not doing something now, having new knives/shoes/dayplanner, won’t spur me on to cook/run/organize any better than I do right now.  I need to start doing now and buy the tools after I’ve proved myself.

I’ve learned this lesson.  It’s been years since I’ve said the above line with true conviction.  I understand that new things won’t motivate me.  They never have.  Probably never will.

Imagine my surprise though when I suddenly realized that I am still saying that line.  Except this time it’s not to Nate but to myself.  And this time it’s not about obtaining a new object but about living my life.

“If I could just become more organized, then I would have a handle on life.”

“If I could just structure my day better, then I would feel in control.”

“If I could be more consistent in all areas, then I would finally be able to achieve my goals.”

“If I could just spend more time in prayer, then God would help me in these areas.”

“If I could decorate my house the way I want, then I could focus on more important things.”

“If I could clean my house more consistently or have the money to hire a house-cleaner, then I would have the time to focus on my kid.”

The phrase I’m saying is slightly different but the spirit of it is the same; dissatisfaction in life.

At the time of this realization, I was about to step into the shower.  The water was running, my towel slung over the door.  I literally stopped in mid-step as this awareness washed over me.  I sat down on the lid of the toilet and began weeping.  Tears of being utterly crushed, completely blindsided.  How long had I been telling myself these lies?  How long had I held life at arms length?  As I sat there I started thinking back over my life and discovered that I have been telling these lies to myself for decades.  Decades!  Decades?!

Why have I been putting a contingency on LIFE?  I’m never going to have the kind of life I want if I’m constantly talking myself out of living it.  And if I did or became all of the things I think I’m lacking would my life be any better or would I still be dissatisfied?

My thought process in how to sort through this is so convoluted that I don’t even have the capacity to write it out.  All I know is that I’m going to stop telling myself these lies and the hundreds of other ones that I’ve tried to pass off as truth.

I did it with the phrase at the top of this post so I know that I can do it with this one too.  God help me.

Much needed hiatus

We just returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest.  It was one of the most memorable trips we’ve taken back “home” and I feel blessed that we got the chance to go.  The weather was absolutely perfect until the day we left which made the trip even better than expected.  My parents watched Kai for 6 of the 10 days so we definitely had a relaxing time doing stuff we don’t normally get to do.  Like eating in restaurants.

We packed tons of stuff into those ten days: attended our friend’s wedding, went to the Ballard Locks in Seattle, quality time with my aunt and uncle in Seattle, a 4-day trip to Victoria, BC,  my brother and sister (in-law) staying with us for 2 days in Victoria, eating at amazing restaurants for almost every meal, enjoying the view from our penthouse condo, soaking in the hot tub on the deck of our penthouse condo, afternoon tea at The Empress, shopping, going to the movies, eating delicious cheeses and drinking expensive wines, celebrating my birthday, and spending time with some of our dearest friends at their home in Bellingham.  So to sum it up, too much for me to recount in a single blog post!  Maybe I’ll take time later to write about a few of the experiences if I can get around to it.

Here’s some of my favorite pictures from our trip:

Long-time friends at the wedding in Seattle

At the Ballard Locks with Uncle John and Aunt Mariley

Our condo overlooked the entrance to the harbor. We often saw planes landing and taking off. Notice how the plane hasn't landed yet?

The view from our condo in Victoria. Lots of seaplanes and interesting boats.

Enjoying cheese and wine on our balcony in Victoria.

Enjoying the sunset in Victoria.

The sunset from our balcony.

There's Brandon and Cory getting off the ferry in Victoria!

Two of my favorite people in all the world!

One of the landmarks of Victoria, BC: The Empress Hotel.

Cory and I at The Empress after our super fancy Afternoon Tea. A highlight of the trip for sure!

Another one of my most favorite people in all the world.

Grandma & Grandpa reading with Kai.

Taking a walk in the woods near Grandma & Grandpa's house.

Kai taking a much needed nap on the flight home.

Friends surprised me for my birthday with an impromptu wine and cheese party.

We definitely needed this trip and enjoyed the crap out of every moment.

 

Done with the cleanse

I finished my 3-day juice cleanse a few days ago.  I am proud to say that I completed it and didn’t cheat.  In fact, beyond a very small craving for salt, I didn’t even think about food.  It really didn’t feel like a big deal to me at all and now that the cleanse is over I don’t even feel different.  I don’t feel like I have more energy or lost weight (although that was not my intention) or even cleaned out any toxins.  I’m only left feeling a bit confused.

On one hand, I feel a bit disappointed that I didn’t have this amazing life-changing experience.  I had expected something in the way of side-effects but beyond getting tired an hour earlier than I normally do and having a slight headache the first day, I didn’t have any withdrawals from food.  No bathroom “cleansing”, no blemishes, no mood changes.  Nothing.

On the other hand I feel proud that my normal everyday eating is balanced enough that my body didn’t need to detox.  This outcome has made me really stop and think about what we eat as a family.  We don’t buy packaged or processed or pre-made food… at all.  I don’t eat that many sweets and never drink soda.  Getting vegetables into my diet is really the only thing I struggle with but since I got my juicer I’m able to get veggies into the family every morning.

What I’m taking from this experience is the satisfaction that I’m eating way better than I thought.  It’s encouraging to know that I’m doing alright and I am providing healthy and nutritious food for my family.

Look at all the shades of green!

——————

Oh, speaking of healthy and nutritious food, you really MUST check out my sister’s food blog: freshisthetaste.com.  She’s an amazing cook and has tons of ideas and inspirations.  She’s one of the main reasons I got back into the kitchen and made myself fall in love with cooking again.  Her recipes are simple and easy to follow and if you ever have any questions or problems with a recipe, she’s more than happy to help.  Now go check it out!!