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.

 

A bit of clarity and the gift of broken-ness

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.

Summer update

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.

Grief and joy

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Anna turned 9 years old yesterday.  The day was simple and joyful.  And thankfully, it was free from the painful sentimental feelings I normally feel on my children’s birthdays.

This year, Anna could choose between having a birthday party or having a weekend at a hotel with her family.  She chose the hotel, and last weekend we spent two nights at a hotel in Wisconsin.  Anna spent most of the time swimming. We also spent some time seeing old sites from when Alan and I lived there.  We visited my parents on the way home, and they gave Anna her first sewing machine.

On her actual birthday, Anna chose what we ate for breakfast and dinner (pancakes and eggs; spaghetti without meat).  And, she invited grandma and grandpa over for “dessert”, also known as veggies and dip, popcorn, and Zevia root beer.  Somehow, the sweet tooth the rest of us are plagued with doesn’t seem to reside in her–and therefore she is our little health nut who keeps us eating our vegetables.

Family life is sweet and lovely.  It has been especially so in recent months.  Things feel grounded and connected in our little family, and I am glad for that.

In the background, there is grief.  My dad has stage 4 cancer.  He doesn’t want to share the news with anyone outside of our family, at least, not yet.  At first I felt shock and intense love for him and compassion for his suffering.  In addition to this, there is now grief and sadness.  The feelings swing between periods of peace and acceptance and then the intense feelings of grief.

I am letting myself cry when I need to.  Work has been a welcome distraction, although I am not as cheerful or engaged with my clients as I usually am. I’m feeling bewildered and disorganized and uncomfortable, not always knowing what to do when I’m not busy.  I know that allowing the feelings to come is what will heal me and keep me together.  But it is hard.  I often want to run from it and go back to the way things were before.  I am thinking a lot about the memories I have of my dad throughout my life.  Dad riding the John Deere in the summertime, dad taking us ice skating on the frozen marsh, dad cutting down trees and splitting logs, dad building snow forts for us and making awesome sledding trails.  I feel the comfort and the consistency he has provided all of my life.  Always there.  Reliable and strong.  What would it be like without him?

Things that help me cope with this grief are talking about it, walking in nature, cuddling my pets, and reaching out to others. I am visiting my parents as much as I can.

Life is hard.  And, it is beautiful, too.

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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.

September 8, 2017

I guess I should start off by saying “hello again” to this blog.  It’s been nearly two years since we’ve seen each other.  Today I had the urge to write for the first time in a long time.  And while this blog seems foreign now, it’s the only place I have to put these words that are coming out of me.  

I woke up today feeling especially grateful for the experience of being alive.  Life is rich and complex.  And at the same time, it is consistent and simple.  Today I especially feel like this physical experience is a journey–a temporary thing that I can choose to enjoy and marvel at. It’s like I can step outside of myself and see that we’re all just living in these bodies and don’t know what we’re really doing here.  All of the trials and tribulations are just experiences–something that will give life depth and meaning, and hopefully lead to wisdom and understanding, too. Like Louise Hay said, “We’re on an endless journey through time.”

What brings a great deal of joy in my current state of being is my relationships with my children.  I adore them.  I love being a mom; I love being their mom.  It is an absolute joy and an honor.  I love planning things with them and spending time with them.  I love lying in bed at night and chatting with them past their bedtimes. I love looking forward to spending time with Alan and the girls over the weekend.  I love getting up in the morning to walk Mia to the bus.  I love bike riding around our neighborhood and biking Anna to school.  I love a day off from work to spend at home, tidying up and caring for our “nest”, with open windows and a cool breeze blowing in. I love birds singing and trees blowing in the wind. I love yoga classes in my new hometown.  I love listening to Pandora while thinking about life and how to grow and get better each day.  I love baths with epsom salts while listening to Josh Groban on Pandora and crying because life is so beautiful. I love nature and being outside, being silent and listening to the sounds of nature, seeing the sun rise and set, seeing the animals and plants survive amazingly amongst each other with only seeds, earth, sun and rain to sustain them. I love sleeping in our solid, warm bed beside my sweet Anna who is my bedtime companion these days.  I love Alan’s consistency and his unwavering loyalty, gentleness and kindness–and that he is exactly the dad I wanted for my children.  I love feeling content in this life we’ve created–which is pretty simple, stable, and nicely predictable these days.

I love my parents.  I love watching them grow old and become more of their true selves, now that the stresses of parenting and supporting a young family are mostly behind them.  I love seeing my children love them and them love my children.  I know now how much they have always loved me, too, and I am grateful for that love.

Time passes more quickly than ever before.  And somehow, I find myself feeling at peace with that.  I used to struggle a great deal with the passing of time, and maybe I still do at times.  I love the phase we’re in, and I love seeing my children grow.  My increased cellulite, gray hair and forehead creases are a reminder of where I’ve been.  They mark a milestone in this physical journey, one of lessons and pain and joy and growth.  I guess I feel grateful for it all, even for the cellulite and wrinkles.

While I am still, at times, hit with the pangs of wanting more children and wishing I had a bunch of babies and was still a homeschooling mom, I’ve noticed that what I have wanted has often times contradicted with what was best.  And sometimes I wanted two things that contradicted each other, such as freedom and babies, for example.  Sometimes life presents us with choices, and sometimes it hands us what we’re intended to have.  Or, maybe it’s all what we’re intended to have and we really don’t have much choice at all.

I guess balance can never be achieved.  Maybe part of life is learning to live with the “what ifs” and “what could have beens”.  Perhaps it’s all perfectly orchestrated, and there never could have been another way.  Like this is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

“Listen, love, and just be there, without judgment or correction.”

These are words are borrowed from The Invisible Scar.

These words eloquently express how we can best help those who are hurting.  They also express how we can best help ourselves.

I was warmed to read them today on one of my favorite blogs on WordPress and wanted to pass them along and record them here as a reminder.  Sometimes the most healing effort we can put forth is to simply “listen, love, and just be there, without judgment or correction.”