Happy New Year!

Things are so much better in my world since the new year arrived, probably thanks to a few little changes. Here are my resolutions for this year:

Exercise every day

Start each day with a grateful heart, a positive attitude, and loving intentions

Don’t eat sugar

Have more fun

It took one day to feel the effects of practicing these intentions. Eliminating sugar has an almost immediate impact on my mental health. Each day will start with some kind of devotion or meditation–whatever is important to me at the time. Today it was: “This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And really feeling the gratitude along with it. Each day in this life is a gift, and to not appreciate it is so unfortunate (and I’ve been doing that lately).

That, along with the love and support from the lovely people in my life, have made things turn around.

Yesterday was a wonderful day and I had FUN! I drove to my hometown by myself, which is about an hour from where I live now. After driving around the town and shopping at the old Wal-Mart, I met up with my friend, Michelle, with whom I went to school since we were kids. We didn’t hang out when we were in school, but always knew each other and were in the same classes many times. We reconnected over Facebook a while back when we realized we had a lot in common. Now she is a cherished friend. After that, I visited my parents at their house and we had coffee and talked for hours. It was a restorative and special day. My heart is still warm and full from that day.

As far as the exercise routine goes, I started an exercise program online today. After 12 minutes of it, my body told me to stop. So, here’s to starting small and not giving up. Each day it will get better and easier. The body is really, really out of shape.

Feeling good, feeling motivated for a new beginning.

Peace and blessings to everyone. xo

Valentine’s Day and other things

Tonight I arrived home to a special dinner, flowers, cards, and dessert made my sweet family. I did not take pictures, but I think I just might remember it forever, anyway. This is the recipe that Anna used to make the super yummy chocolate mousse we had for dessert. We also watched a cheesy, romantic movie tonight (I loved it and I think the rest of them did, too) and went to bed really late. Clearly, I am still awake but the rest of my loves are asleep, including the dog and cat.

Mia recorded two songs at a recording studio that will be included on her first album that we hope to complete this year. We are working on making a website for her so she can promote herself. It’s slow going for us on that front; none of us are particularly gifted in the area of website design and self-promotion. I’ll share it here once it’s up and running.

A work opportunity presented itself in recent weeks that required a lot of thought and decision making. Ultimately, I decided not to join a private practice that would involve working with children and families in the areas of trauma and attachment. For various reasons, I decided to turn down the opportunity and keep the stability, legal protection, flexibility, and independence that my current job provides. It was not easy saying no, explaining why, and dealing with the disappointment of the team who wanted me on board. The experience provided a refreshed appreciation and commitment to my current job– which has had me a bit bored and uninspired lately. While this was a somewhat distressing experience, the practice in setting boundaries and following my intuition seem to be another trial on my journey. It seems this same situation has repeated so many times in my life now that it’s almost ridiculous. I should be well versed in it by now. This time, I was less impulsive and more cordial than usual. So, that is probably a good thing.

Another year

With just two days left of this year, my heart is contemplative and nostalgic.  2018 was a year of change and challenge for me and probably many others in the world.

I wonder what 2019 will bring for the world, for our country, for my family, for myself.  We can never know, and this terrifies me a bit. And then I remember that the best we can do is to surrender to the unknown–to God’s will.

This year the realization of my mortality and the mortality of those I love weighed heavily on my heart. I take with me into 2019 my fear of dying young and of leaving my children motherless–and perhaps will find peace with this fear in the coming year. I also take with me the dreadful knowing that if I do not die young, I will lose my parents someday, and that day looms closer and closer.

The real work of my life seems to be this inner work that I constantly feel driven by.  In recent years, this inner work has been more rewarding than burdensome and I’ve begun to embrace it more. Themes from this year’s inner work that will lead me into the new year: unconditional love, forgiveness of self and others, loyalty, generosity, the courage to be myself.

I am indebted to so many.  I have taken more than I have given in my life so far, or maybe just broken even.  I want to pay it back, pay it forward.  I want to give more than I take.

That said, I am grateful.  Grateful for the hardships and the lessons as well as the many joys.  It is all a part of life, of our common, shared, brief existence on this earth.

Love, peace, and happy new year to all.

xo

What’s been going on for the past 23 months

Since I decided to stop writing in this blog in October 2015, my life has been largely undocumented.  I’ve taken photos of my children and taken some family photos, saved some mementos, and become increasingly lost in the pleasures of daily life.

But, I realize that in 30 years we might want to remember what was going on in 2015-2017. So here goes, in a nutshell:

  1. In July 2015, we lost our cat Luna and adopted our dog, Penny.  This is the same month I decided I needed to leave the church I was a part of.
  2. In September 2015, Mia and Anna were in 6th and 1st grades at their old school, respectively.  We prepared to sell and sold our old house, bought a new one, and prepared to move.  I took a full-time job, was interning and working on my graduate degree. We were stretched thinly. It was a very trying time for all of us.
  3. In November 2015, I finally mustered the courage to announce to Alan’s family and church friends that I was leaving the church.
  4. In December 2015, I finished all of my academic and internship requirements for my MA.  I had still to write my thesis, which ended up taking 1 1/2 years to complete.
  5. In April 2016, we left our home of 13 years and moved into our new home.  Alan gutted the kitchen and flooring throughout the house, and we lived without a kitchen for a while.
  6. In September 2016, Mia and Anna began 7th and 2nd grades at their new schools.  They were devastated and cried for days.  I continued to work at my full time job and going to school and felt increasingly drained and unhappy with our lifestyle.  Alan was still working his job as usual.  Our kitchen was complete.
  7. In December 2016, I quit my job, started a new one, and quit it after 12 days.  I was unemployed until June 2017 and it was a very memorable time.  There was a lot of healing, discovering and self-care that happened during that time.
  8. In October 2016, we lost our beloved cat, Jezzie, at the age of 19.
  9. In March 2017, the stars aligned and we found our new cat, Phoebe, who fills the void that Jezzie left in our hearts.
  10. I completed my Master’s thesis in April 2017 and received my MA the same month.  I walked in my graduation ceremony in June 2017–the same month I accepted the job that I have now.  I love the job.
  11. September 2017: Mia and Anna are in 8th and 3rd grades.  They both love school.  There were no tears this year.  We sold our old car and bought a new one. I am studying for the national exam for marriage and family therapy.  Alan is content in his job.  We appreciate his summers off more than ever.  We had the best summer this year that perhaps we’ve ever had–maybe because we finally appreciate what it means to have time off and time together.
  12. Anna loves ballet and swimming.  She would do both all day if it were possible. Mia loves being creative and has a wonderful sense of humor.  Mia writes songs, sings, and plays guitar.  Anna plays eukelele and sings.  We have family karaoke days where we all sing for hours.  Mia and Anna are exceptional children: both are extremely kind, generous, and wonderful people.  It is an absolute honor to be their mother.
  13. Alan and I have been married over 17 years now.  Wow.  I feel increasingly aware and grateful of the incredible gift of finding him, marrying him, and sharing my life with him.
  14. I took lots of photos and video of the above events and many more events, and I hope someday to get all of these organized.

I am a doula!

Today at 4 pm, I officially became a doula!

There is still work to do until I will be DONA-certified, including to attend 3 births.  At this time, I have no births lined up. So, I am putting it out there that my doula services are available at a low/negotiable cost, including birth photography.

My plan is to become certified in placenta encapsulation at the end of May, as well, and offer this service to those who are interested.

This will be a one-step-at-a-time adventure.  I don’t know where it will take me or what it will bring. It is exciting.

Happy New Year!

This New Year’s Eve, Mia stayed up with us until midnight.  We watched Where the Wild Things Are as a family, made mini pizzas, made cake and ate it, too.  We also had a little mishap that landed Mia in the ER, but it turned out to be ok so we will try to put it behind us.

My New Year’s resolutions for 2014

1. exercise consistently, at least 3 times a week, including lifting weights

2. eat mostly Paleo but remember to cheat every once in a while

3. do well in school/balance school with life

4. be calm, gentle and kind with everyone at all times and STOP BEING A CRABBY PANTS.

5. be smart with money and pay off as much debt as possible

 

These are the resolutions Mia would like me to make:

1. make more cookies!

2. make more spaghetti!

3. make less eggs!

4. make more gluten-filled foods!

 

These are the resolutions Alan wants me to make:

1. save some chocolate for me

2. keep going to the gym; you’re doing great

3. don’t feed me any more cholesterol sticks, chips, meals, or balls

 

This is what Anna would say if she were awake:

1. mommy, I’m hungry

2. mommy, don’t watch me

3. mommy, where is the chocolate?

4. mommy, can I get something yummy from the vending machine?

 

Happy New Year, friends!

 

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Sweetness and belated Halloween pictures

I love my little family. I love waking up to the sweet voices of my girls.  I love that they sleep in bunk beds and giggle together after the lights go out.  I love that Alan is strong and stable and reliable.  I love that he is building a shed out of old pallets.  I love that Anna is in preschool and Mia is in school, and that they are so happy there.  I love that right now, I am sitting in a cafe by myself with a cup of decaf miele and my laptop.

Here are some pictures from Halloween.  They wore matching costumes for the second year.  That’s so cute.  I love them.

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A new chapter.

I started tonight.  I had my first class as a graduate student! It was great.

I am happy and excited to begin this new chapter and look forward to everything that sits ahead of me.  I have so much to learn and so much growing to do.

My first class has only 6 other students in it.  I am thrilled.  The small number of people in class put me at ease, especially since we have to make presentations–and my greatest fear until now has been public speaking.  Speaking to 6 people is hardly public speaking, so this is a good way for me to ease into it.  I am determined and fully expect to get over my anxiety with public speaking asap–it has been a pretty obnoxious problem for me and I am ready to let it go.  So, so ready to let it go…

Up unti now I worried that I was making a mistake by investing so much time, energy and money into this; after all, I could do a lot of other things instead of getting this degree.  But after tonight, I am completely sure that this is the right path for me to follow.  I love this stuff.  I may as well make a career of it.

So happy.

Fall vacation

Fall has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember.  This fall has been the longest and most beautiful and pleasant fall that I can remember. We spent MEA weekend in Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls, and it was a treat.

On the way there, we stopped and visited Michelle and her family at their new farm.  My girls are still talking about the animals, and “Whitey” in particular–the cuddly white farm cat.

My family came up for one evening to celebrate Daja’s 34th birthday, and we ate at a fantastic restaurant, The Vegetarian.  It was top-notch food–such a pleasant surprise for a small-town restaurant.

For small towns, Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls have a progressive feel.  They have lively downtowns with interesting shops and cafes, and even a real bakery that still makes cake frosting out of real butter. These, as well as the natural beauty, really appealed to Alan and me and we think we could be very happy living here on a nice piece of land.  We put this on our list of places we would love to live someday, maybe even in the number one spot for now.

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Many things in my head

I have been feeling particularly ungrounded over the past few days, caught in a whirlwind of excitement and ideas.  Along with that comes difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and wishing I could fake sick so I didn’t have to do the dishes or make food.  Routine is out the window. I have very little focus.  This is vata-excess, again.

Things I am currently obsessed with:

Being simultaneously excited and terrified of starting school in a month and a half

Feng Shui, and wanting to set up my whole house according to it.  Currently, there is no budget for that, so patience is a must…and that’s a tall order right now.

New foods and recipes and extreme boredom with the same old.

Fantasizing about the house that I want to have built for us someday…someday.

 

I will start school in November.  For the next five years, I will work toward my Master’s degree and state licensure as a drug counselor/marriage and family therapist/clinical counselor.  It feels like this is a new baby, 5 years from birth to sending it off to Kindergarten–consuming much of my life and energy and requiring more life balance than I currently have.

Assuming that I live long enough to reap the rewards of a satisfying and interesting career, earn enough money to pay my student loan in a timely fashion, and assuming that I am able to balance my life and be the mother/wife/person I want to be in the meantime, I believe this will pay off eventually.  I am actually pretty excited to learn about all the stuff I am going to learn about.  I do feel that I am answering my calling, that this is what I am supposed to do, and that now is the time.  Following my heart has usually lead to good things, so I am trusting that this is the case this time, too, despite the very large price tag of this heart-following adventure.

On another note, I am out of my usual multi-vitamin/mineral supplement and need a new one because I am no longer a person who needs prenatal vitamins.  I’d love any suggestions you have.