My recent subscription to Medium has been arriving in my inbox every day. It’s a breath of fresh air. Here is my favorite Medium article from this morning’s delivery. Written by author Ayodeji Awosika, the words are uplifting and thought provoking. They reset my thinking today, reminding me to tune in to the present moment and recognize that “the sky is not falling.” This describes just how I’d like to live my life. It is so easy to forget without a reminder once in a while.
Best wishes to everyone for a happy weekend.
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.
Today, my mom and dad came over for a few hours to spend time with my girls. I had a couple of hours off in the middle of the day, so I dropped by home to spend time with all of them. My mom had baked a cake with Anna, the recipe shown below, and it was so good that I ate three pieces in a row!
My mom showed me the recipe they used for the cake and explained that I’d made this same cake back in August of 1994 as a surprise for the family. What? That 15-year-old insecure girl who couldn’t seem to do much right with her life made a CAKE? I remember those days painfully clearly, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot remember this cake-making that evidently occurred. As you can see by the recipe below, my mom takes very good notes! That makes them extra fun to read 25 years later.
Learning about my teenage cake-making episode transpired just at the right time–as these things often do. Recently I’ve been processing my long-held belief that “I am a bad person.” Memories of my mistakes and all of the bad things I have done are plentiful and easily accessible in my busy, ruminating mind. Not so accessible, however, are the things I did that were NOT bad. Like baking.
Back in August 1994, I was the age that Mia is now. Through Mia and with the help of this new cake-making information, there is a surge of compassion and love for my younger self. It’s like water is flowing into an empty cavern, filling it with life. The cavern has been dry for a long time.
Mia is wise beyond her years, a kind and genuine soul–which perhaps I was not. But, like Mia, I was trying to figure things out and doing the best I could. Figuring things out when you’re 15 years old is not an easy feat. I gossiped about people. I talked behind people’s backs. I went along with teasing a girl for being fat. I cheated on tests. I complained and was ungrateful, and the list goes on. But, was I really as bad as I’ve been telling myself? Look, I made this cake. For my family, as a surprise that made them happy. That is pretty sweet. That sweetness came from me.
Today, this was an epiphany: I am not an all-bad person.
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.
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.
Winter at St. John’s University
Me at silent retreat
Mia on the piano
Mercury is direct again and with it comes a little more peace and clarity than the previous three weeks delivered. This is a relief and has me feeling better about life and myself in general. However, it’s not all figured out yet. The journey goes on.
Since last night when Mercury went direct, I have been thinking about this: the gift of broken-ness. I am not sure whether I was whole before I was born, but I think the broken-ness began with birth. Then, like a ceramic bowl dropped on the floor, I was broken and mended, over and over. And the cycle continues this way. My guess is that this holds true for most living beings, too. From our broken-ness, we get to re-create ourselves and our lives. In this, there is a gift, an evolution of the spirit and a deeper awareness of the great mystery of life.
These are a few pictures of our summer so far.
Summer is flying by. It has been wonderful so far, for the most part. Aside from my inner processing and some turmoil to sort out, it has been a relaxing and enjoyable time. We’ve had some good family time at the cabin and at my parents’ house and at home. We’ve gone to the beach and watched old home movies. We’re reading aloud the Winnie the Pooh treasury…again. It seems this doesn’t get old, ever. Mia has been writing songs and singing and playing guitar. Anna has been drawing and watching World Cup with daddy and having lemonade stands. Alan has done some home improvement projects here and there. I have been working some, doing the usual house work, and taking the girls on outings when possible. I’ve also cleaned out and organized our office in preparation for homeschooling. Alan and I just celebrated our 18 year wedding anniversary.
My dad is almost done with the chemo phase of his cancer treatment. He will begin the radiation phase in the next month or two. The past several months have been incredibly stressful because of this. I’m glad to say that it has gotten better with time and we’ve all gotten more used to it. I feel more at peace with whatever happens and more content living in the moment. I am just glad that my dad is here right now. This experience has brought me closer to my family and made me appreciate them so much more. It has forced me to grow up and let go of the past. This is the silver lining.
Over the last few months I have lost a great deal of hair. It has become so thin and I have felt kind of sad about that. But, it is just hair. Maybe it will come back. I got a haircut yesterday that made it look a little better. I’m hoping that the hair loss is due to stress and that I will be able to recover from it.
The low lectin diet I was attempting to follow has gone moderately well. I have eaten cake and ice cream and white rice and mac and cheese more times than I wish to admit. I know what I need to do but for some reason it is hard to do it all the time. My symptoms have improved as far as my breast pain and problems related to my menstrual cycle, so it does seem that the diet has helped a bit even though I’m not following it perfectly. However, I have been so incredibly fatigued during this time that I don’t really know what to do with myself. Again, right now I’m attributing this to stress and hope I will recover from it.
My work is going reasonably well. As always, though, I’m starting to have an itch for a change. I’m trying to make myself stick this out for a while, at least until I am fully licensed. There are parts to my job that I really dislike. There are parts that I really like, too. What I’m torn about right now is how much I want to stay home with my kids and do the homeschooling and not worry about earning any money. That’s not realistic anymore, though. Because of my student loan debt and the new car we “had” to buy, I need to work now. And let’s not forget the ballet lessons. I must also remind myself that without working outside the home I tend to feel lonely and unappreciated and all that good stuff.
Mercury in retrograde is coming up starting at the end of July. Right now we are in the shadow phase and I’m starting to get a glimpse of what I’ll have to deal with during this Mercury in retrograde cycle. There is a lot of guilt and regret associated with mistakes I’ve made in the past. There is a lot of realizing things that I hadn’t realized before, and that sometimes comes with pain. I’m still working on feeling these things fully so that I can let them go.