More thoughts on school and choir

I was feeling a little down about school the other day when I wrote this post.  I was also feeling down about our commitment to Mia’s choir when I wrote this one.  Today I feel much better about both, and this is why: No matter what Mia is in or isn’t in–she can and will find happiness because she has already the necessary ingredients.

I am not going to enroll Mia in choir next year, because that is what I need for my happiness.  She will be ok.  She can always join choir later on again if we choose.  Joy comes from within, and she already has it.  She has parents who love her and each other, she has a network of love and support beyond our immediate family, she has downtime and fun, and she has stability in her daily life and she has freedom to find her own path.  That’s really all kids need, right?

What I need now is to relax and not worry so much about these little details that aren’t really that important.



school, one month later.

Mia has been in public school for one month now.  The newness has mostly worn off, and we are settled more into this routine.  Making lunches and doing homework have become regular evening rituals for us, as have driving to and fro and juggling our schedules to make it work.

These are my main thoughts on school today:

1. It dictates our lives.  School is a lifestyle.

2. The weekend is a wonderful respite, and I want to do nothing on weekends except let Mia play and reconnect with her.

3. Monday is a wonderful respite from a long weekend of play and reconnecting.

4.  There is not much room for other activities and interests, and there is little time for reading books that are not for school.

5. Driving to and from other activities in addition to driving to and from school is a lot of driving.  And gas.

6. There are a lot of fundraisers, homework, carnivals, meetings, playdate opportunities, parties, and events affiliated with school. A lot.  

7. Children in school do not learn to question authority or to think for themselves; in fact, this type of thinking is discouraged.

8. I am afraid that if Mia is in school until 12th grade, she will miss out on her childhood.

9. The spirit of the child is neglected somewhat.

10. There is a disconnect from the outside world, from nature, and from the self.

11. There is the expectation of conformity.

12. Time is spent doing mostly meaningless tasks while meaningful, practical skills are neglected.

13.  Mia is joyful, has a sparkle in her eye, and loves this new adventure.  I do think that for now, this matters most.

a small dilemma

Mia is in a choir that meets once per week or more, depending on performances.  She absolutely loves it and it means a lot to her.

The drive is long and during rush-hour on a school-night.  It is utterly draining.  The gas is also expensive.  There is fighting in the van all the way home, and we are all crabby and tired every single time we come home.

This is her second year in the choir.  It goes all the way through twelfth grade.  She has developed a sweet, beautiful little voice.  But I am overwhelmed with the commitment.  I want to quit.  Carpool is not an option; nobody else in the choir lives in our town (hence the long drive).  There are other choirs but all of them meet after school, during rush hour and not in our town.  Not interested in choirs affiliated with churches.

What should I do?

Uncertainty and Strengthening the Throat Chakra

I struggle with knowing when to speak my truth and when to keep quiet, especially when it comes from a place of deep caring.  Sometimes help is unwanted, and people want to travel a particular journey a particular way without change or interruption.  This is where my uncertainty sets in. Where do I draw the line between helping and intruding?

Over the years, I have learned how to fix and help things in my own life, and the natural result is wanting to share the good news with others: there is an answer for everything.  I don’t believe in accepting suffering; I believe in searching, trying, and finding a new path. This is my truth; this is the path of my life.  When others are not interested or don’t believe it, I think I take it personally–as if they are not interested or believe in the very essence of who I am.  Clearly, this is my own problem to work on, and this is where my Louise Hay affirmation comes in: I love and accept myself, just as I am.  

What I am learning now, and it is a painful lesson, that my own truth is just that: my own.  If someone else asks or wants to hear about my truth, I will share it, and it is a wanted gift.  If someone doesn’t ask  and I still give it, then it is an unwanted gift–at least, sometimes.  I have given too many unwanted gifts. Perhaps I have also depended too much on this so-called gift-giving; I’ve perhaps used it to fuel my self-worth.  Who am I if I have nothing to give?  This is the root of something bigger. I love and accept myself, just as I am.

Knowing when and how to speak is a product of the throat Chakra.  I am working on strengthening it and will eventually be better able to judge how and when to speak.  Self worth is a part of the solar plexus Chakra, and I think that needs some work, too.  There is always room for improvement, and there is always a new avenue waiting for us.  All we have to do it be open to it.


In the spring of 2003, I was blissfully pregnant, working on my art degree and living a wildly creative life.  Home life was easygoing and marriage was fun. Life was not perfect, but it was pretty great. I had balance.

Then Mia was born, and suddenly I was not a student, wife, artist, or individual person.  I was a mother.  I thought that in order to be a good mother, I had to give all of myself.  This pattern has been present for a long time.  I have tended to give more energy, time and money to others than I keep to myself.

It turns out that giving too much is not the gift I thought it was.  Sacrificing the self damages not only the self, but those around us.  Only when families, relationships, and our selves are in balance, we can feel whole and parents must maintain these boundaries. We need a village to raise our children, and it is good to accept help and trust others to care for our children.  I know that now, and while it has taken me about nine years to get here, I am glad I made it.

Things are good now. I have space.  There is quiet, alone time, time with my husband, sleep, time with friends and family, and time with each child alone.  I feel deserving of these things. Keeping house and managing meals has become easier, too.  I may even have the energy to start exercising–something I have neglected since Anna was born.

What tipped the scale largely in my favor was sending Mia to school.  It has been awesome.

When it hurts

We have all experienced trauma of varying degrees.  Depending on our sensitivity levels, our coping mechanisms, and our awareness, these traumas affect each of us in unique ways. In some, they cause us to attract partners that hurt us, turn us into addicts of drugs, work or exercise, give us health problems, or make us anxious or depressed. Wherever there is trauma within us, there is also a little wounded child.

The more we nurture and acknowledge our wounded inner child, the less she will hurt.  Although she lives in the past, she is hurt in the present and very much shapes our lives in the “now”.   She can cause us to destroy our lives and run from relationships, or she can help us grow and become magnificent beings.

We expect those closest to us to understand our “soft spots”–our trauma and this little wounded child–and avoid hurting her and ever “going there”.  But it happens.  Perhaps it is impossible to avoid being hurt, and perhaps the hurt happens with a purpose.  Lessons tend to repeat themselves until they are fully understood.

If we actively work on healing the inner wounded child, each time she is hurt, we can rebound more quickly and be better able to judge the situation with logic.  Prescription or other drugs are not healing mechanisms, but rather they give us escape and a prolonging of our difficulties. To heal the inner wounded child, we have to look her in the eye.

When the primal self or inner wounded child takes over and goes into self-defense, our minds become irrational and we strike back, withdraw, or turn to destructive patterns.  This is the state in which we have the choice of walking the path of healing or the path of of destruction.  Choosing the path of healing is the only way to a whole and happy life.

Here is an excellent piece on healing the inner wounded child.

A new challenge

I challenged myself to cultivating heartfelt gratitude on a daily basis through my blog, Project Happy.  After a month of gratitude practice, a new world has opened up to me.  Although shadows of my old self still emerge and want to criticize and create drama, I am now aware of these shadows.  I can stop them and change course.  I will likely fall back into old patterns, but it is okay.  I know that I can always come back to where I am now.

Today I start a new challenge:

Give thanks and overlook the rest.

Instead of pointing out to Alan what he has not done, I am now thanking him for what he has done.  Instead of noticing the traits he lacks, I will cultivate gratitude for the traits I love in him. He took the girls to Bingo Night, made breakfast, made dinner, took the girls to church when I was at work, and picked Mia up from her friend’s house.  He is patient, kind, and loyal. He is a wonderful man in so many ways. I have too often chosen to focus on miniscule irritations rather than his gifts.

Gratitude is warm and healing, and when it is alive in our hearts, it washes away criticism and judgment.  It brings forgiveness and change.  It is a simple change, but a life-altering one.

On to the new and better.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.

After a month keeping my new blog, Project Happy, and an honest attempt at cultivating gratitude and positivity in my thoughts and inner life, all I can say is this: WOW. (And also all of the following words.)

I have made more progress in this one month than I have perhaps made in all of the years I have been working on myself.

First and foremost, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my parents.  It’s as if all the years of complaints and perceived hurts have been washed away, and all that is left are the many bits of my very beautiful life: a life that was given to me by my parents.

I came into the world through them, wanted and loved.  I have been fed, clothed, sheltered and protected by them in all the years I could not do it myself, and then some.  They have worked at their jobs to care for my sisters and me, balanced marriage and family and finances and careers, all so that we could have a wonderful life.  And they have done this mostly in a country that was foreign to them, without family or much of a support system.  They have done it mostly on their own.

My mom made us homemade yogurt and bread amongst multitudes of other homemade goodies, kept our house neat and tidy, provided us with good, clean clothes, took us from place to place, cared for us when we were sick, tucked us into bed at night and sang us a Finnish lullaby each night. She came from a poor family that had very little, and she wanted to give us everything so that we did not have to struggle as she had. She worked hard as a nurse, and always managed to care for us even on little sleep or when she was sick. The best thing in the whole world was when she would let us sleep in her bed when dad was out of town. I would fall asleep with her soft, smooth hand in mine.  She was sweet and tender–the best. She was and still is the most beautiful mom.

My dad traveled a lot, designing gigantic machinery in factories all over the world.  He is a genius, and one of the hardest-working and smartest people I have ever known.  He came from a poor family and worked his way out of poverty, and his resilience amazes me. He told us jokes, made us laugh and took us ice skating, built us sledding hills and snow forts, lit fireworks on New Years Eve and took us on tractor rides.  He was reliable and strong, and made me feel safe and cared for.

My parents paid for my college education, which because of my slowness and difficulty with decision-making, took me a decade to complete.  They were patient and supportive. They did this out of love and out of a desire to give me something they never had.

I was a complex child (still am), and in many ways, a difficult one.  I was sensitive and needy but did not know how to express my needs.  I probably left my parents clueless much of the time, as well as frustrated and bewildered.  I feel badly about that, but we can only live and learn and get better with time, right?

Thank you, Mom and Dad.  I love you.