Texas: Fort Worth Stockyards

We had our first family trip on an airplane and spent a week in Texas. The first three days we were in Dallas for Alan’s educators conference and the last three days we stayed in Fort Worth.

The highlight of our trip was a visit to the Forth Worth Stockyards.  The Stockyards is a historic part of town with cobblestone streets, horses, daily cattle drives, and more steakhouses, cowboy boots, and saloons than you’ve ever seen in a two-block radius.

Our favorite part of the day was watching the cattle drive.  Texas longhorns are an amazing sight! We thought they were so sweet and cute, with their big brown eyes and their super long horns.  Each animal has horns that are a different shape and length. Some of the horns are so big that it’s hard to believe the animal can hold up its head!  Sometimes the horns are asymmetrical, which was especially cute.  They are gentle giants that move slowly and have a peacefulness about them.

We had rain the last two days of our trip, including our day at the Stockyards. Luckily there was plenty of opportunity for shelter and we still managed to have a great time.

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November

November is almost done and here are some things I’d like to remember:

Both girls are playing guitar and enjoying their lessons with their teacher, Will King, who has been teaching Mia since she was eight years old and is truly the best teacher we we could ask for.  Mia has been playing piano and writing songs with piano accompaniment.  She fills the house with her beautiful music.

Mia finished her fall term of Acting I at the Children’s Theatre Company (she loved it!) and Anna took (and loved!) ballet and modern dance at her new ballet company.  Saturday mornings during Mia’s acting class, Alan and I had special date time with Anna.  We usually ended up going to the Wedge for groceries or the Wedge table to hang out with a chai and a treat.  Anna dances ballet beautifully and with ease.  It is a joy to watch her.

Alan went hunting two weekends this month with his brother at their family cabin.  Luckily he did not kill anything but he did have a nice time out in the woods. On one of those weekends, my two sisters came over for a night of karaoke and other fun things (adult-sized sleeper pajamas included).  Over another weekend, I attended a silent retreat–the same that I attended last year.  It was restorative and gave me some space to process some inner turmoil I’ve been carrying around for a while.

I added more clients to my caseload to increase my income and this has me working 3 solid days per week.  Though I was skeptical about how this would work, Mia and Anna have been very happy with their lack of supervision.

Both sets of grandparents are enjoying visiting Mia and Anna when Alan and I are at work, and this has become a special bonding time for all of them.  It’s incredibly wonderful to witness the relationships between all of them. We are so grateful.

We’re working on finding a recording studio for Mia to record an album of her songs and hope to start this in the new year.  We’re super excited about this.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this year in my hometown. It was extra special because of my dad’s journey this past year.  We are thankful for each day we have my special dad in this world–and of course, thankful for all of our family and friends, too.

 

October

We have had a beautiful October here in Minnesota with mild temperatures, just enough rain, and fall colors that will spill into November.  We even had our first snowfall. Our homeschooling has settled into its own rhythm, which involves far less structure and direction than originally planned for.  This is good. It is ok.  We’re back to a sort of “unschooling” theme, with a little direction and suggestion here and there.

We celebrated my sisters’ birthdays, visited my parents, went to a lovely apple orchard, stayed in a cozy and warm camper cabin at Afton State Park during the peak weekend for fall colors, and of course, along with the rest of the country, we celebrated Halloween with pumpkin carving, costumes, and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  Mia was a “flapper” from the 20’s and Anna was a snail.

I read this book over our cabin camping weekend and it changed my life a little.  It changed the course of my children’s lives even more because it helped me relax and trust them more. They have been very happy since this change occurred, and I am reminded once again how things fall into place when the time is right.

Another wonderful thing is that my dad finishes radiation treatment tomorrow.  The maintenance part of his treatment begins now and continues for the rest of his life. I learned that although I was told that his cancer was stage 4 in the beginning, this was not accurate.  I do not know why the misinformation happened.  He is doing much better now.

Fall greetings to my dear blog readers.  I hope this finds you happy and well.

xo

What’s next? Homeschooling!

My last post reflected on the last few years and the storms we have weathered as a family in order to be where we are today: a pretty good, solid place. So, what better time than now to throw something new into the mix?

Mia and Anna have been asking to be homeschooled for the past two years.  After plenty of reflection, research, and problem solving, we’ve found a way to make it work–and think it will be for the best.  Our kids will have more freedom and more peace and quiet. They will have more time, less pressure, and more connection and meaningfulness.  We’ve done it before and we can do it again, right?

This time, though, it will be a little different.  I will continue working part-time.  Mia will be a college-bound high school student.  We will have to keep records, complete curriculum, and make sure we’re on track with everything that is required for her to become a successful college student.  I feel pretty excited about it all, and needless to say, the girls do, too.

And Anna–well, she needs something entirely different. We will follow a general curriculum with her, but we will take it easy.  She needs healing. She needs space and room to play, wonder, imagine, create, and breathe.  She needs me close by to hug and comfort her. She needs distance and protection from the world of public school, which has been overwhelming to her gentle spirit.

We have laid low and haven’t officially announced this to our family and friends quite yet.  There are people who will disagree, be disappointed, and be unsupportive.  That is ok.  We are doing this for us–for our family.  It feels right to us, and that’s what matters. We are fortunate to have my parents’ full excitement and support. It always helps to have someone in one’s corner.

This homeschooling venture is a great labor of love.  It is a sacrifice that may challenge me in ways I do not yet know. In many ways, it is like a new baby.  It will take adjustment, patience, and commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Learning intensely

My schooling has been really intense the last few days.  Not so much in the “I’m studying and writing a lot” kind of way, but in the “I am learning everything about myself and it is freaking the crap out of me!” kind of way.

Digging deep and really figuring out who I am, not just who I wish I was or who I try to be or who I think others think I am—but who I really am—is totally nuts and terrifying and also very eye-opening, of course.

The class I am taking now is called Lifestyle Analysis.  We learn how to analyze a client’s Lifestyle, which is a term coined by Alfred Adler.  It shows who a person is, who she strives to be, how she perceives and relates to people and her environment, and why.  It is all very revealing and interesting and gives a clear picture of the client.  A major part of collecting a client’s Lifestyle is through Early Recollections, which is another Adlerian term.  In Early Recollections, a person gives a series of different memories from before the age of 10, in no particular order, and it doesn’t matter if they are factual or not.  They are given in the first person, and described from the beginning to the memory until the memory ends. What matters in the Early Recollections gathering is the metaphorical data and what it tells us about the client’s perspective.  Early Recollections tell us how a person lives her life now, in the present, and how they perceive themselves and the world around them.

My Early Recollections almost all involve me being alone or being only with my sister, doing something that is either a form of escape or satisfying my curiosity and/or my senses.  They involve being outside, and feeling good in the situation.  Through my ERs, I am categorized as a “comfort seeker”, among other traits. It’s unbelievable what little snippets like this can reveal.

Through my Early Recollections and Lifestyle Analysis, this is what I have learned about myself that I didn’t really consciously know until now. These are my Mistaken Beliefs:

People in power and people I admire hurt me.

People I admire cannot be trusted.

I do not want to be hurt, so I prefer to be away from people.

I get comfort through my senses, and not from people.

I use my own power to control my experience.

I take care of myself.

I protect myself.

Men are angry and powerful.

I have value when men approve of me.

There’s probably more to come, but that is where I am now.  The tears have been flowing today.  Once you get to that core and you hit the truth, it just comes pouring out.  Oh my God, and holy crap.  This is the work I have to do in order to become the therapist I want to be.  It’s also the work I have to do to live a full life and be the person I want to be.

I am kind of terrified right now.

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.