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Friday, January 4, 2019

thoughts on story-telling

So that was quite the holiday. Little baby guy came down with pneumonia. On Christmas Day. Me. In a hospital ER. Canceled holiday dinner plans. No where to go. No food to celebrate at the house. I definitely went home and had a frozen meal while Little baby guy watched PJ Masks (bigs were at their dada's house, which is a whole other reality that is making me feel hazy about the holidays....just

And now it is post-holidays. (Thank you Sweet Baby Jesus)

And Little baby guy is headed back to school.

This morning I got the Bigs off to the bus.

Okay Little baby guy. Time for school. Cue screaming tantrum over getting dressed. Poor guy is still sick and has been transferred from the toddler house to the children's house for three-five year olds because, as they put it, he is too verbal. HA. In any case.

I am thinking what to do and I say, hey, want to hear a story?

He pauses.

I get in his face and softly tell him the story of the little boy who grew so big from the sunshine that he had to go outside all day and his mama missed him but when the night sky came and the sun went to bed he shrunk back and went into his own bed and kissed his mama goodnight the end.

Not my most creative endeavor. But it worked. So all the while I am getting him dressed and we are downstairs eating and then....screaming over getting his coat on and I don't want to go to the Big Kid school.

Another story. Once upon a time there was a little boy who wouldn't put on his coat because he missed the sunshine so much. But the winter wind was stronger than the sun and blew him all around so he put on his coat and went out with his mama and smiled at the sun and remembered summer and the flowers and butterflies that would come.

Again. Not creative but it worked.

Cue another screaming fit. (I am going somewhere with this I promise) I am kneeling next to him as we stand in front of the door to his new Big Kid School. I want to go to Little Boy School he cries! So I say, do you want another story?

Once upon a time there was a little boy. And even though he was very little he was very brave. And he went to Big Kid School with all the Big Kids and had a fun time the end.

Tell me again mama, he whispers.

So I do.

And he marches into that room and puts away his bag and all is well with the world.

My point?

Stories have power over us. They guide us. They heal us. They instruct us.

Which is why my story I want to introduce to you today is so special to me. It isn't profound, or worthy of awards, or even a book contract, HA. (Too many dystopian novels out there! They all told me) But it is lovely. And fun. And it is mine. And it saw me through so much.

I wrote it five years ago. All 100,000 words (that is a big-ass book, if you are wondering) and I was editing it over the past few months to get it ready to put up as an e-book I noticed something.

This story, is the story of me, walking out of postpartum depression. Really it is.

I started it with a vision of a girl, with a dagger in her mouth, walking in a tunnel underground. She is crouched low, toxic slime dripping off the walls. She is on the defense, but also on the move. She has to save her people, but she is so alone, and it is so dark, and it is so hard.

This is Lydia. My girl.

She and I walked through some hard times but, we make it out. We are making it. Something like that.

And then other characters emerged. They were parts of me too. Queen Riona. Mama Bear. Warrior. Fierce. Self-sacrificing. Mikko, loyal and faithful friend. Cronus, the rebel troublemaker with Snape-like qualities who ends up....I can't tell you it will spoil the story.\And his wife, Denae. The raw emotions of motherhood and birth came out writing her.

And that is what story telling does. It frees. It enlightens. And hopefully, for you, it entertains.

So. Read if you will. Tell me what you think. And please, share with somebody you think might like it! (Pretty please!) Book Two is cued up to be available next month (the end half of the original book I read, each volume is around 40,000 words, totally manageable!). Books Three and Four are sketched and ready to be written over the next few months.

Click here if you want to download. Hugs and love people.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

9 months

Nine months has a certain connotation, in my past life we'd all ooh and aah.

In this case. Its different. 9 months is how long its been, in this case, since the dying of my marriage began.

A long time coming. Years? Perhaps?

How does one write such a post?

Mostly, one doesn't.

Rumors and whispers and etc. take grip. Pictures disappear online. Cryptic posts abound. Change is evident. Some of it good. Some utterly and profoundly sad.

I am caught up in the rolling of those two dichotomies. The back and the forth that has left me too sick to my stomach to write much about it.

Month one. My God. No. Trying to rationalize everything away. Trying to prevent the inevitable.
Month two. Shock. Resolve. Shock. Resolve.
Months 3-4. Numb. Helpless. Angry. So so so sad. My inner bitch took charge, necessarily.
Months 5-8. Busy, too busy to feel. Everything is numb still.
Month 9. The thaw is beginning. My heart is feeling again. It is so sad and hopeful and sad and oh, the feeling of injustice. The reeling of emotions. But then another sunny sunrise strikes my heart and it all feels possible. I can do anything.

And that is where I am.

Hopeful. Forward. That paradigm shift in thinking is stretching me, uncomfortable in so many moments. Life doesn't happen to you. You make life around you come into being. The vision that you have can be had.

The future for June is now written differently. She is strong though, clutching those pearls. She has found herself again. She is laughing, truly laughing, in a way she hasn't in years. She feels free from the falsities. Aware of the complexity, aware of the tragedy, careful to never ask "but why?" and oh, so hopeful for the new future she is creating.

Baby, you haven't seen anything yet.

Merry Christmas friends. Cheers to a new day.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

pretending like i can

Years ago, feels like another person, I wrote all about career/baby balance in several posts, the wanting of both worlds, simultaneously.

I thought about that me, dropping my last baby off at pre-school in the rain, only to drive to a client meeting an hour and a half a way with this look on my face the whole time, giant thermos of chai on hand, the silence interrupted only by the windshield wipers, grey skies and golden autumn fields flashing by my side.

And I thought about how I wish I was the kind of woman who could do this life. Career pursuits intermixed with crazy hair day and chocolate sales and basketball registration and dishes and laundry and homework check-offs and reading practice and please put down the ipad. I felt like I was pretending, driving through the rain. Like, I wish I was that woman. Who was strong enough. Tough enough. I wish this felt normal. Maybe someday, I found myself thinking. Maybe someday I can do it.

Then I realized something.

I needed to change the language in my head, in that very moment. Not, I wish I were stronger, better, more able. But that I AM strong, I AM able.

Maybe is today.

I am doing it.

I mean. I might be cranky some mornings. I might forget to check math homework. I might send my kid to school without snacks packed. I might mix up Tuesday with Thursday. Or get snappish at my 12 year, no really put the &#$!!*# ipad down.

But dammit.

I am doing it.

And here is the thing I have been rolling around in my head for weeks now. Something I read ages ago but now sticks like glue to my thoughts. Courage is not the lack of fear. Courage is doing, even when afraid. Courage is doing, even when we are positive we are not actually up to the task. Courage is motion, action, purpose.

And I went to my client meeting and smiled and shook hands, wearing my blazer and, yes, lipstick, and I drove home, in the rain, and met kids at the bus and sweated out 4th grade math homework, and made dinner, and answered work emails as the potato soup simmered.

There is hope. If we look for it, is the thing. Strength too. Mamas. We have so much of it, right? And there is, always, a new day tomorrow.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

i just...

This is where I am lately. I just...

I...I just...

I got nothing.

I've been playing the piano just now. I am kind of a hack. I pick out tunes. The girls and baby are delighted. I pick and peck and sing and it sounds very nice and all. But I am a hack. I can't read music, not fluently anyway. I can't play Chopin or Bach.

I can fake it.  That's it.

I feel like that is me in a lot of areas. Painting. I can do a decent little oil painting. It looks nice and all but, you know, nothing special.

Writing. I have had some nice ideas. Maybe one of them will sell one day. For now its a collection of words that make me laugh and smile and, yes, cry.

This blog is kinda the same space. Lately anyway. Some nice pictures. Some clever words. I think of something nice to point out. Or I say something sad, but relateable, or stressful, but something we all know.

But that isn't where I am right now.

Right now my world is falling apart. And I cant see the sky or the earth or anything solid except for four little beings who love me and need me to keep it together. And the days are very ordinary for a falling apart world. I lose my keys. I spill my coffee. I make mac and cheese and do laundry and pull dirty socks out of the toy bin and settle squabbles and answer phone calls and drive to the dentist and work and read Goodnight Moon three times in a row and say prayers and smooth tired brows and plaster on bandaids and "use your inside voice" and "can you please be kind to your sister" and "I said no more i-Pad today!"

And all of it. But yes. Right now I am in the sorting phase. Sorting out all the broken pieces. What goes where. What doesn't fit anymore. What needs sanded down and refinished. And yet still the mac and cheese and squabbles and lawn mowing and spilled coffee all still happens. Funny, that.

 Such a perplexing place to be in, at 41, with four kids. And yet. There you have it. It is what it is.

I just...

But the more I share, the more I let myself be vulnerable, the more I hear from others, in quiet messages and emails and texts. You too? Yes. Me too. And. Dammit it's hard.

Like Brene Brown has said though, it isn't some cliched midlife crisis we are all feeling, rather, it's an unraveling, a great pull toward authenticity. To live the life you were meant to live. To live in truth. To live without fear. To live in authenticity to the life you were called to live.

So. I look at my unraveled pieces of my past life. And I sit in the Midwestern late summer sunshine and pick tomatoes and try to figure it all out. And then, sometimes, I just put the pieces down, take the kids to the park, and think, maybe all the pieces are right here. And they are perfectly imperfect. And holy because of it. And someday I will rise again. Not new and shiny. Not like that. Ravaged. Survivor of the storm. In anticipation of the next one, for they will also come because, guys. THIS IS LIFE. Storms. Heart ache. Heart break. Over and over. There is no end of the rainbow perfection. That's a myth. And it sets us up for so much disappointment and resentment and anger at the world. But BUT BUT BUT there are moments of pure beauty in it all. Peace too. And all of it? Its all so damn worth it.

And we come out of that refining fire. And I will. Stronger. Wiser. More me.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

new things

I was cutting up lemons a few months ago. The scent even still bittersweet. A few seeds were left on the counter. It was planting season, pots and planting soil abound on our farm around that time. I poked a few seeds in a pot, just as an afterthought, after seeing them lie there.

They sat. And sat. I put the pot up on top of the refrigerator and forgot about it.

A month later, rearranging a bit, I pulled it down.

This is what I found.

New life, new hope, poking up. Out of seemingly nowhere.

And I smiled. And watered it.

And I will keep waiting.

Monday, May 21, 2018

catching up in photos

I still can't write about all that went down that prompted our move from our island coffee life back to the Midwest. Perhaps someday. But not yet.

In any case. the kids and I have landed in the Midwest, at grandma and grandpa's farm. A place of wonder all its own, though perhaps more subtle than the big bold beautiful colors of Hawaii. Its planting season. The farmers are out on their tractors. Baby man watches from the big front porch, the lanai as little green keeps calling it. We plant little green peas in the earth, patting them into place, and wait.

And I miss blogging but I still dont know how to put words to my heart. Its all a jumbled mess. Even so, the girls and I turned an old metal watering trough into a fairy garden the other day and when we did, well, I had to share.

So, for now, photos. I can do that.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

snippets of remembering

I don't know if I am feeling sentimental these days, with baby turning two soon and my little man close to eye level with me, retreating to his room as moody preteen life kicks in. Or maybe its just I am overwhelmed enough that my mind is trying to escape? In any case, but I have been having so many moments of flashbacks lately. All of a sudden, vivid images of things I have done, places I have gone, years ago, all forgotten until a sudden flash brings them to the surface.

Isn't memory a funny thing?

And as a mom, a precious thing too.

One, I have felt and lived and seen and done and experienced so much more before this #momlife I now live. It's almost fascinating to remember snapshots of that world. I was that? Really?? 

Two, these babies of mine are slipping into childhood, preteen, teen, adulthood years so quickly, like beads spilling off a snapped necklace. To catch a bead or two as it falls, to find it under a rug, forgotten, hidden, is like a gift.

Sitting in the living room, watching Wall-E for the first time in awhile with the kids. Remembering little man, when he was actually little, waking from his nap, cuddling up to me as we watch the robot show, his round little head heavy against my chest, his little voice asking questions, chirruping a constant stream at me.

The sunshine at the end of the long day, hiking up the hill, my girlfriends behind me, finally catching our breath as we get to the top of the hill, the tall trees, raking their branches against the evening sky, and then coming up onto the plaza, the tiles and statues and the glowing golden dome taking center stage as the city of Florence comes into full view.

Ice cold water, splashed against my face, my new husband and I huddling against the blowing wind at the campground, tucking my hands back into my orange LL Bean windbreaker, the woods of Maine crisp and sparkling with the new day behind us. Feeling so ALIVE.

New baby, my first daughter, pulled onto my chest, the fire burning in the fireplace, letting off a glow behind her head, my husband's breath on my shoulder as he peers with me at our new girl. Her full lips, her squinted eyes, slits opening to take in the world. The ache of my womb, missing her, yet my arms so fulfilled.

The hazy sky of Baghdad, a browning golden gray as the sun sets, the tall prickly date palm above me, as the bats begin to swoop in their nightly hunt, the smell of burning in the air, dust settling with every footstep as I walk to my room, the sky fading to black behind me.

Pulling over in my minivan on a rural gravel road in the middle of Wisconsin. Baby screaming hysterically in the background, carsick and overheated. A toddler and a five year old perplexed as mommy breaks down into tears. Thinking how can I do this I am not this strong what is my life now.

Each bead glistening. Its own scent and feelings attached.

Reading Lord of the RIngs to not-so-little-man last night, him cuddled up to me, the chapter where Frodo is in Rivendell, recovering from the wringwraith's attack. He and Sam sit in the Room of Fire as the elves sing and tell stories and the images wash over them with the words connected with the feelings of the songs and stories, colors dancing and pictures of the elvish history from long ago and I think is that what happens as we grow old, and stay open to our memories and let them fill our hearts and we smile a little knowing smile as a song from our highschool years comes on the radio, washing dishes in our little kitchens and we turn it up and sing loud and even, to the astonishment of our babies/embarrassment of our preteens, dance a little, remembering another self, sixteen years old, daddy's big red car, the dry California air blowing long blond hair, scent of eucalyptus sharply in the evening wind, stripped down to a halter top after a class of tennis at the local community college, driving up and down and around the huge Central Coast landscape, the same song comes on, we turn it up, and smile, and drive, the whole world in front of us, ours for the taking, all is so very possible, and back in our kitchen, dish rag in hand, we smile at that girl, all is so possible, so good, girl, you dont even know.


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