Friday, July 26, 2013

Peeking out

I'm the type of person who takes ridiculous amount of photographs and puts them in photo albums labeled by year.  Even in the age of digital, I can't bring myself to stop doing this.  Most of the time I get behind in ordering the photos and about a hundred photos finally get ordered from shutterfly.  They sit in the orange package on the shelf until I make time to put each one in the albums.  The albums have their own space, no longer in order because the boybuckets likes to look through them often. I will walk upstairs unable to find him and spy him lying on the floor, the pages open to whatever year strikes his fancy.  Sometimes I will sit down with him and flip through the pages and answer his questions.  Other times he will surprise me with what he remembers.
"Mama, I fed that donkey some lettuce and his name was Diego."
He was 2 when we had that donkey in the backyard of our rental in Tomales Bay.
"Mama I kissed that Manatee! His name was Buffet. They rescued him!"
He was 2 and half on that trip to Anna Maria Island.
The kid just surprises me all the time.

This blog has been like those photo albums for the past several months.  It started to pile up on me.  I wasn't sure what I would do with it anymore.  I got behind and the thoughts just swirled into this overwhelming cloud.  Why am I still doing it?  Is it still serving the same purpose for me?  Is it changing?  Where will it go?
And then some really swell folks came through and browsed through the pages and the emails made me feel nostalgic.   There are technical problems.  (Hey google....I will never keep up with you.  And what's with all my pinned photos in my posts disappearing?) There is much time lost.  There are folks out there in bloggyland to catch up with.  Some folks that have been so special to me in ways they may never know.

Until I figure it all out (but really...I'm not going to figure out where the photos in my posts went.  Some kind soul please do that for me?) I guess I will re-shelve it.  I just wanted to peek through a bit in this place that did so much for me at one point. There is a story to tell.  One day I will get back to it.
Hope you are well.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My own skin

I wonder quite a bit if anyone else has a day like I did this week.  One in which you fuck up consistently by just being you.  It grows tiresome....thinking all the time that you could be, should be better.  Monitoring yourself and your words and your actions and feeling fearful.  So very damn fearful all the time.  Something as innocent as the way you are sitting in a chair in a public forum or driving and eating in your car.  Or you know, when you curse....LOUDLY after you realize you put the money in the parking ticket drop box and forgot to include the parking ticket.  Heads turned.  Mouths dropped.  I rambled on an excuse with the soy sauce that had dribbled onto my jeans at lunch and the coffee that had sloshed on my sweater. 
The older I get, the more accepting I become of me and all my flaws.  Because despite my propensity to offend others without trying or stick my foot in my mouth, I believe I am a good person.  I give and I see the best in others and I am understanding.  But I have a day where I don't feel comfortable in my own skin.  I want to peel it off and shrug on a new layer.  One that is graceful and polite.  Walk straighter and pay attention to the speaker instead of rudely multi-tasking.  Say the right thing and do the right thing. a meal without getting it plastered all over myself.  Drive down the road without pissing someone off.
I try.  I really try.
So, I pick up the phone to call a friend.  Someone who will understand.  I just don't like being me today.  Someone who knows that I am a good person underneath the ridiculousness.  Someone who might distract me with their own turmoil so that I don't feel so alone or misunderstood. 
But in the end, I come home to the scruffy-faced husband and he gets it.  He puts up with my shameless antics and social faux pas and he gets me.  He holds me close and I feel safe and welcomed and his large hands rub up and down my back and my arms and he tells me about how much he loved the concert the night before.  How happy he was and how much he enjoyed sharing the experience with me.  I smile into his shirt and recall his big, geeky grin and the wonderful music and the cool night air. And suddenly my skin feels warm and right.  Stomping feet run into the kitchen to break our reverie for another slice of pizza and he stops to join our little circle of love. His fingers pulling on my arm and his head squeezes in next to my hip. 
"Are you okay Mama? You look sad."
"Mama just had a rough day."
"Yeah...that is sad." And he sighs.  And I smile.  Hoping one day he will always feel comfortable with who he is. 
"But now I am here with you guys and it's pizza and movie night!"
"Let's go jump on the trampoline first!"
And we jump in the sun and I laugh.  So grateful for the skin I'm in.


Hope this finds you surrounded with folks who love you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Loud Mouth Girl Philosophy: In Bloom

As much as I love the snow and the cold and the forced quiet that comes from the peace of winter, I always start to get an itch around this time of year.  A bit like that seed in the ground, I imagine....waiting to bloom.  Anticipating the moment when the sun warms the soil and the rain pours down and it can stretch and open and take it's first real breath.   I'm crawling outta my damn skin around here since the first days of spring brought a freak blizzard our way.  But in my heart, I am ready to bloom.  Anticipating that feel of renewal that only comes with the spring.  Windows thrown open, the cool breeze blowing and of course the puddles to stomp in.

I believe Spring is the time to reconnect, reconsider and revise.  All those commitments I made in the wash of post-holiday glow? They might get a little wonky when I get drunk off the smell of flowers and the feel of green grass beneath my feet. And that's just fine.

I believe Spring begins with a picnic and a kite and happy dog running wild through the trees.

I believe in a good puddle stomp.  And scooping up worms to "rescue" them back to the dirt.

I believe in magical plants (because hell if I can grow anything real in my house).  When the boybuckets "plants" a seed, like a plum pit or apple seeds, the next day he usually wakes up to a treat growing up out of the ground.  Yes, I know he will figure it out one day and yes, I know it's ridiculous but seriously?  Who doesn't want a chocolate bar tree in their yard?

I believe Spring is time to plan adventures.  Let's do something epic, shall we?

I believe storing away boots and sweaters and coats is like unloading about 20 pounds...only to discover you are pale and in need of some toning of your wobbly bits.  Hit the gym and put on some self-tanner.  Helps me every time.

Hope things are starting to bloom where you are.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mood Music: These are the places I will always go

I survived Jedi training camp.  It was madness and mayhem and SO much fun.  The birthday boy asked for sushi afterwards and we went to our favorite place where they tucked us into a little private room.  And I watched him use his chopsticks and eat me under the table.  Now he is 6.
Like every other thing in my life, planning a party has tipped my Momma Balance off a bit.  I woke up the next morning feeling overwhelmed with the idea of tackling everything that had to give in the past couple weeks to make way for a super special celebration.  The sun came out and BoyBuckets was putting together new legos while the dog slept next to his legs on the floor.  I let the scruffy-faced husband snooze the morning away.  He made 30 foam light sabers, a realistic Death Star for a bean bag toss and corralled about 30 kiddos through an obstacle course.  He scored enough points to make me swoon. He deserved to sleep in.  And then I sent him out for breakfast because "hell no I am not cooking today."
While he ran out, I played this song, which is a favorite right now.  I think it's actually about losing control and bad habits but there is something about it that soothes me and opens me up and makes me feel like I am home.  Lucky.  Head over heels with life.  I stood looking out the front bay window in my pajamas.  Every gritty detail in beautiful clarity.  I can hear my son playing and the dog snoring.  The snow is dirty and melting outside and the sky is gray.  I think about my friend and her husband who helped us pull off the perfect kid party and the waiter who was short-staffed and still so friendly at dinner and my Aunt who struggles to get by every day and still sent my son a gift.  I think about the kindergartners who brought shoe donations for our Soles 3 Souls shoe drive.  I think about my husband and how he loves me enough to put up with my craziness.  I think of my son and his face, laughing and I glance down to see him hard at work building his little world.  I think about the very moment and the perfect reality that is so imperfect. The song sways in the background.  My heart is full.
When I start to feel cynical and negative, I always make my way back here somehow.  To the place where beautiful things happen and the smallest acts of kindness move me and I understand that it's all what I make of it.  Before he was my scruffy-faced husband, he was just a tall, scruffy-faced boy who sat with me on the steps before class.  We would drink huge cups of soda and bat away at the bees, watching the crowd of students gathered around.  Playing frisbee, eating and studying. Talking and laughing.  We talked about the world with the sentimentality that comes from being young.  I remember sitting close to him on the steps during one of these talks.
"People are really beautiful", I said.
He stared at me for a second.  I expected him to look around.  Maybe laugh at me.  Debate with me about some of the ugliness in the world.  Crack a joke about Star Wars or our Western Civ instructor.  But instead he just stared at me for a beat.  Those light brown eyes with golden flecks, studying....what, I'm not sure.
"Yeah", he said softly.  A small smile. "Yeah, they are."
I remember that conversation because it's a reminder to never lose that feeling as I get older.  Hope and gratitude.  I can choose the lens I view my life through.  Other people and the world around me.  I choose to see beauty.  These are the places I will always go.  I am on my way there.

Hope this week finds you looking out a window and feeling centered.  There's a hell of a world out there.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Six years

I can still carry him, though he is freakishly tall.  He wraps his arms around me and looks to me as if I can bear the weight of it all.  As if he is no bigger than he was years ago when he sat in a little sling snuggled next to my skin, holding tight with my hair in his fist as his eyes took in the world.

 And so I do bear the weight, which now requires him to wrap his legs around my waist and me to walk carefully so I don't fall.  Because he looks to me to do it.  And to keep him safe and guide him and make pancakes and schedule playmates to come over.  He looks to me to love him and accept him and everything he is.  And sometimes I suck at it.  I'm neck deep in parenting shitwater and I know it and he looks to me expecting more.  I expect more.  And I inhale and exhale and start over.

No longer does he need me to make his bed or brush his teeth.  He has acquired that fine skill that small children master wherein he pushes up onto a high counter and balances on his knees to reach high kitchen cupboards for a glass for his orange juice.  I stand back and watch him gently grab the glass, precarious on his knees and hop down, only to climb up on tiptoes to reach the shelf in the refrigerator and pour without spilling a drop.  A look of serious concentration on his little face.
No longer does he need me to scrub him clean or help him get dressed.  He can stuff himself into his snowsuit and boots and go down the giant hill on his sled without my assistance.  
He doesn't need me to explain the sounds of letters and words or to count jelly bellies.  He doesn't need me to tell him what to wear and what to eat or to say "please" and "thank you".

Tomorrow he will wake up and begin his 6th year in this crazy world.  6 years of learning and growing and exploring.  6 years to find magic and feel disappointment.  6 years to accomplish and to fall down.  6 years to love and to hurt.  6 years of finding his way.
And I get to be there to watch it all.

Tomorrow I will make our traditional birthday cinnamon rolls and light a candle and sing "Happy Birthday" to him for the 6th time.  And while I feel like my heart could just explode from the very idea of 6 years....I am focused on the fact that he chose me.  In this big universe, his soul came to mine and I get to guide him through.  I get to be his Momma, the good, the bad and the holy-shit-did-I-just-say-that? moments.  I have the gift of him every single day.
Happy birthday to my Boybuckets.  My little Jedi will be 6.  I can't wait to see what mountains you will climb and I will always be your soft place to fall.
Hope this week finds you with something to celebrate.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

My little space here in bloggyland has had a DO NO RESUSCITATE order for a month now.  I don't sit down to write or read blogs and articles like I used to anymore.  I don't feel a draw to it.  It's not that I don't still enjoy's just that I have given my energy to other things and I find the longer I go without writing and reading the more it feels like some faraway trip I went on. I have all the photos of the stops and attractions and mementos of people I have met but it spins on away from me and life is so full that there is TOO much to write about and....I've fallen down the rabbit hole.  I keep telling myself I will sit down and breathe life back into this little place and reconnect with folks I've been so grateful to meet around here but then the Cheshire Cat creeps around or I go searching for the Queen of Hearts and another few days go by.
It took a blizzard.  And I'm a girl from Ohio and back to the land of Oz by way of Michigan...this IS a real blizzard.  We've had 14 inches and another 12 are on the way.  The wind is blowing something fierce.  It took a blizzard to get me to slow down. 


Not that there's anytime to slow down.
Work has taken on a frantic pace and my thoughts about the public education system seem to grow more cynical.  Where I once felt emboldened to be the change I want to see in the world, I now feel weak and helpless.  Having frustrating conversations with teachers and parents who want to criminalize children and watching the effects of cutting creativity out of the hearts of educators only to replace them with micro-managed time constraints is taking it's toll.  And I feel like there is always someone who could do it better than me.

 My own teaching experience has been exciting and overwhelming.  Watching new clinicians with all their passion and wanting to help them find their way. 
My house has fallen into a stagnate state.  The home improvement list still looms and the other day I looked up only to see that my ceiling is covered in dust.  How in the world will I get that off? Do I need to have it painted?  And I groaned....
My precious boybuckets.  As we have pathetically tried to wrap our brains around what the doctors are saying and choices to make for him, he shocked us with the desire to explain to his friends his condition so that they understand.  If you told me 10 years ago I would be helping to write a story about Tourette's Syndrome with my son, I would have thought you insane.  But at 5 years old, he has absorbed the news of his diagnosis so much easier than anyone else.  He wanted his kindergarten classmates to understand.  And understand they did.  With the help of his teacher, he explained his tics to the class through our little story and within a matter of minutes my son managed to embrace his neurological disorder and advocate for himself in a way that few adults can.  His peers readily accepted him and offered their support. While our next move is uncertain, I do know one thing for sure: My child continues to amaze me every day. Even when I am floundering around like a fish out of water, he treads and keeps going.

I've reached new levels of Sweat Mania.  I'm running longer and more often.  Working harder.  At some point I started to feel motivated by how my body is responding and it makes me want to do more.  I've made time to choose sweating over other more enjoyable things (like sleep) and I feel alive and wonderful.  I still think I'm shaped like a tree trunk but I'm thinking I JUST MIGHT look better in my swimsuit this year.
Our family is in the midst of Jedi Madness.  My baby turns 6 this weekend (hold me) and he wanted a Star Wars party.  Further down the rabbit hole I went.  Because I can't just do a Star Wars party. Noooo, I'm constructing a full-on Jedi training camp.  Complete with obstacle course and the Scruffy-Faced Husband up until late at night making 30 foam light sabers.  My entire office is covered in Jedi Madness.  I've enlisted the help of friends, knowing that I am over my head and cursing my ridiculous self.  (I'm paying them in booze.  Cause that's how I roll.  Booze at a kid's birthday party.) We have t-shirts and silly names for food.  I knew I had reached manic proportions when I ordered a customized banner.  Yes, really.  May the force be with me.
Live music has become an obsession for me.  Scratch music has become like a cigarette.  I took a couple of hits and suddenly after 17 years, I can't get enough.  I can't seem to turn anything down.  My shoe/handbag/travel budget is taking a big blow because everything sounds like an amazing show.  I've managed to turn down a few offers (though I really think I will kick myself for not going to the upcoming Josh Ritter show). But really I just get so excited at any opportunity lately that might just be an amazing experience and music never fails.  But I'm also reaching out for friends more and dragging the scruffy-faced husband to new restaurants.  I'm signing up to run races and packing the family up to go sledding.  As soon as the Jedi Madness is over, wanderlust will most certainly set in. 
Source: via Tina on Pinterest

So here I am, late for a very important date and often times stuck at the table with the Mad Hatter and not knowing how to manage.  But maybe this is what I needed to recharge and gain perspective and reach out.   Maybe I'll find a magic cup that says "drink me" and suddenly find my way back.  Maybe there's something else I need to figure out before that all happens.
Right now in this moment I just feel fucking grateful.  I am safe and warm and I have a wonderful little family and loyal friends.  Despite the chaos, I don't feel so rattled by what I'm not getting accomplished anymore because I'm too busy taking advantage of every single beautiful thing that is right in front of me. 
Right now I've got a way-excited little Jedi waiting for Snow Day chocolate chip pancakes and that's where this journey leads.  Until the next moment.
Hope this finds you getting a little lost in it all.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Taking Care of Number 1

(Almost) Every Sunday I hustle in (late) to a well loved yoga class at the Gymapalooza.  It's always packed to the gills in there with the temp set to 120 degrees.  The instructor is well known to be some kind of pain freak.  The class is meant to be a blend of yoga and strength building. (Think 10 push ups between every down dog and up dog. Between EVERY one. 10 times.)  I always walk out of there feeling like a well stretched rubber-band, my limbs and abs already anticipating the soreness of the next day and the toxins drained from the heat of the room.  It's common to hear whimpering and cursing beneath the soothing music.


  It's also common to hear the hedonistic instructor give the same speech before every class as we are all settling into our mats.  The speech where he talks about taking care of "number 1".  Every week he says the same thing and I'm usually late so I am still trying to find a space to squeeze into and unrolling my mat.  This past week though, his speech hit a nerve. 
"Your boyfriends/husbands/kids...they will all still be there.  The to-do list will be there.  Right now, you take a little time to leave it all behind and take care of number 1 so that you can take care of everything else."
You've heard this speech countless times right?  As the mother of a newborn it came in the form of "sleep when the baby sleeps".  As a working mom in comes in the form of "you need to make time just for yourself." As a woman, it comes in the form of "you totally deserve that pedicure".  We've all heard this speech, but right before I'm about to get my Vinyasa on, I just got....pissed off.  Because I am sick of this speech. In fact, let me be the first to say, I'd like to cut apart that speech right now. (Okay, as usual, I am not the first to say or do anything.  But let me pretend I am a pioneer here.)
That taking care of Number 1 bit so that you can take care of everyone else?  It's a load of crap. Don't believe it for one second because it's not true.  It sounds pretty and you feel good about it.  Now, before you leave here in a hissy-fit, stay with me....
What I think we really need to say to ourselves has been my motto since I had a kid.  (And I remind you, I have "just one" so feel free to throw daggers into my theory you amazing women with more than one child.).  My motto has always been "Something's gotta give".  Every day.  Hell, every moment.  SOMETHING has to go.  And if I am being honest? Some days there are a FEW things that get kicked to the curb.  Because the fact that makes taking care of Number 1 a bullshit fairytale is that there is NO time to take care of Number 1.  Really.  Because like Mr. Hedonistic Yoga man said, all that crap is still waiting for me whilst I bend and stretch and work my muscles to the max.  It's waiting for me because I chose to go to yoga.  I made a choice and I chose me.  Some Sundays I make a choice and I choose church.  Or I choose paying the bills.  Or I choose putting away laundry.  Or I choose to spend half the morning in my pajamas playing Headbandz with my kid and my husband.  Something's gotta give.  If I choose me, then other things in my life that are important have to give way.  I've tried to find a cure for this thing our brain needs called sleep so that maybe I can end this conundrum, but alas, it turns out that sleep is necessary.  I choose sleep.  I know some women who don't.  Bless you dearies.
I just don't find any peace from the taking care of Number 1 speech.  If I could revise it? It would go like this:
"Welcome to class all you badass yoga wannabes.  You chose to come to this killer class today, and I know you are sacrificing something to be here and I want you to know that you are important too.  And maybe later today when you realize that taking this hour to torture yourself meant that you were up a little later packing lunches or making a grocery list or finishing a work project you will regret that you were here.  I want you to do your best to remember that you chose this for you today and work yourself into a hot mess right now so that when you put on those dreamy tight jeans you swore you could never fit into before, it might have been worth it.  Now let's work it so you can get back out there and be the stealth ninja you are. Now get on your feet and let's hear some 'Ommmm' motherfuckers".

I'm just sayin.  The truth feels so much better. Something's gotta give.  The choices we make everyday dictate where we are willing to make the cuts.  It's part of the balance of my life and it makes me crazy some days.  Most days.  But I am learning that it is what it is and it will be okay.  Or, it won't and then I can handle it.  Because I am a ninja. "Ommmmm". Bring it on.


Hope this finds you giving what you can and enjoying the bits and pieces that make it all worth it.