Thursday, February 04, 2016

Truth, and Clarity About The Fact That I Know Very Little About Truth

When I think about "who I am" and "where I'm at" in my life right now, I find myself going deep. Like, deep into my soul, mind... heart... deep within. It feels like I'm in a pool of fresh, clear water... and I'm looking up and I see the heart of a young woman I once knew.

This is what happens when you close in on midlife... just so you know.

That young woman is me, of course. But she's the old version of me... the younger version. She is the vivacious, know-it-all, goodie two-shoes, who seriously thought she knew a thing or two about life. That young woman had plans, and ideals, and expectations.


See, that's the thing about this part of life I'm in. I am now fully aware of how little I knew then, and how little I know now.

Is it being in my thirties that has something to do with it? Is it because I've moved a lot?  Is it because I've heard stories and loved others who have walked different paths than me? Is it because I've given birth? Does my faith in a higher power play a part?

Yes. All those things... and more.

I'm at a point where it's become very clear to me that life isn't about having answers, but consistently seeking truth. I don't believe truth is about black and white answers; it's about story, and redemption through relationship, and love, and seeing the world as a big place full of big hearts who really all just want the same thing: Love, security, food... salvation from the hurt and anguish. Isn't that what we all want?

We never really find answers; we never "make it." It's the seeking, the journey that brings us real truth.

As I form opinions, and get all riled up, and find myself prepping to blog big words about my opinions on the world... I frequently find myself realizing that these viewpoints of mine can change and no longer hold truth for me; as my naive opinions in my twenties don't now. I do not see the world and all the people in it with the same eyes, nor will I see it with the same eyes a decade from now.

We are living in a rich time of debate, social media, politics, human-rights activity, gender awareness, educational reform, healthcare reform... the list goes on. The one thing I realize is that no opinion, vantage point, or truth will ever be one size fits all. Once a person forms an opinion, states it out loud and turns their back on all other truth, they themselves will turn their backs on those whose story does not fit into the "truth" of that opinion.

Is this all making sense?

I find myself hesitant to engage in opinion wars online. I hold back from writing, explaining and ranting about what I think truth is on my blog. As life has taught me, I will state said opinion, and meet someone with a heartbreaking story and that truth of mine is forever shattered into an untruth. If there is any truth to behold, it is that we are never the same when we are seeking honest, living, truth through the eyes of others who live alongside us.

So... I guess that's my opinion on the matter.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Blogging Is A Mindful Task

I was hanging with a few of my Homeschool Mom friends yesterday and we found ourselves talking about blogging. Sheepishly, I mentioned that I've had a blog for nearly ten years and recently I've begun to seriously ignore it. I couldn't give the ladies a real reason why I haven't been blogging, other than busyness or just a general lack of attention.

If I was being really honest, though, I would have recognized that there have been moments when I've mentally stopped and thought, "I should write about this" and willfully decided not to. I made the choice to not write (all my writer friends: you can stop judging me now). 

I realized, I often don't blog because it is just one more thing. Blogging has been a very rewarding part of my inner-life as well as my social life, but over the course of the past year it has become just one more thing among the dishes, the laundry, the errands, the appointments, the lessons, the busyness, the chatter, the movement, the explanations, the lessons, the stress, the mundane and everything else. It became another task.

How did I let this rewarding, fulfilling thing become just another task!?

As a stay-at-home-school mother, I find my focus to never be... focused. I rarely have the time to just lean into something for more than a half hour. I wear many hats (as the saying goes) and rarely have time to myself. When I do have that time to myself, I choose activities like sitting, staring, sleeping, and basically anything that requires little brain energy. I choose rest.

The irony is this type of rest is yes, rest; but not the type of rest that refills my tank. Existing is not enough. This type relaxation is important, but I rarely feel energized after staring (I'm chuckling to myself right now, because staring IS a REAL thing you guys!) or just sitting. What brings energy to my soul is recognizing that I'm alive, and giving back, and serving, and growing, and becoming, and nurturing. 

I recognize in myself that blogging creates a sense of presence in my own life; I am aware and cognizant of the moment in which I am giving of myself. I am present. It is very easy (and sometimes necessary) to get through the days and manage the week as best as possible without putting too much thought and effort in, but who wants to just "get through" their life? I want to live and remember and thrive. Blogging has been, and should continue to be, a very rewarding contribution I make to my own life and the lives of those I care about.

I'd say that I should probably do more reflecting, and recognize the things I deeply value, beyond blogging. Motherhood can feel arduous and monotonous, but it doesn't have to feel like endless weeks of "just getting through." Being aware and clear-headed and mindful helps the ongoing moments feel like treasures I store up in my heart for always. And maybe, while I'm doing dishes, laundry or all the things, my mind is present and I truly feel, hear and understand the joy of the life I'm living now. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Finding Neverland In My Own Heart

After a particularly rough day with the Little Critter, I decided to relax by watching Finding Neverland on Netflix.

Now, mind you, today wasn't especially bad... but it's been a few weeks of solo-parenting, kiddo missing his dad, summer bliss, boundary breaking fun. In a nutshell, today may have been a day that broke my emotional threshold. You know, when your heart is just overwhelmed with all of it and the normal kid behavior makes you wanna cry, even though it probably shouldn't.

Finding Neverland was a good choice.

Following the dismal reception of his latest play, Little Mary, J.M. Barrie meets widowed Sylvia and her four young sons in Kensington Gardens. He proves to be a great playmate and surrogate father figure for the boys, and their imaginative antics inspire him to write a play about boys who do not want to grow up. Barrie's producer skeptically agrees to mount Peter Pan despite his belief it holds no appeal for upper-class theatergoers. Barrie places children from a nearby orphanage in the audience for the opening night show and the adults present react to their infectious delight with an appreciation of their own. The play proves to be a huge success. *Credit: Miramax, 2004

This movie struck all the chords within my heart, the first being mother. I was reminded that though kiddos have rough days (as all humans do), at the center of each child is a heart that longs to explore, be free, imagine, and learn all they can about this world we live in. Every child is Peter and the Lost Boys.  As a mother, it is my job to encourage these things within the heart of my own child and those I am called to love. Loving a child is allowing the spirit to soar, so that they may learn who they truly are within their own hearts.

As children grow and learn what it means to be human, they are forced to handle the pressures of life and this can often be overwhelming. Anyone else had a long, busy day result in tears and refusal to brush teeth? No? Hmm... must just be me.

 Life will, if we let it, snuff out the creative heart of a child and they will fight it. Finding Neverland reminded me that though the days and weeks can be grueling, they are also beautiful treasure, because often this is our kids efforts (though they're usually unaware) to take back their time, freedom and creativity.

It can be a very difficult and often impossible thing to truly "store up these treasures" or feel the "gratitude, because someday you will miss this" when the pressure of parenthood becomes a weight, but if we truly have a heart for this calling (parenting), we will be blessed with reminders of why we're going to get up and do it all again tomorrow. It's my job to advocate for the heart of my child!

I am continually having to be reminded of this. My calling as a parent is not a duty, it is a gift; a treasure.

On our roughest days, it's often wise to plop down on the couch, and find something that will remind you of your own heart, and what you believe in. Give yourself a good cry and let yourself be free to acknowledge that one bad day doesn't mean you're a bad parent. In fact, bad days give us opportunities to reevaluate and reacknowldge just why we're doing this incredibly important job.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thirty-Five Years Old: I'm Perfectly Imperfect

Three weeks ago I celebrated my thirty-fifth birthday, and I'll be honest... this season of my life requires less validation, perfection and tidyness. My thirties are clearly my best time of life yet, and as I edge closer and closer to my forties I do believe they'll trump this decade with even betterness (I know... bad grammer). The forties will have to wait... I'm busy enjoy my thirties.

I recognize that this year in particular has been a huge year of growth, and maturity for me. It has been a rowdy, messy and really emotional (that last one probably doesn't come as a surprise to most of you) year. 

It is often painful when change is effectively taking place in the heart of a person. It is for me. In the midst, change feels real, honest and freeing; scary, vulnerable and messy. In January I acknowledged my lifelong struggle with depression. When you put a name on something, it becomes real, and for me, the depression took a dark turn. It was like for the first time I didn't run or hide... I stood in the wake and felt all the feels. In the midst of those feels, I recognized how deep this illness has crept into my life; how it defined all the many parts of me and how I acted (or reacted) out my every day. I could no longer be defined by depression. 

Among all of these revelations about myself and my psyche, it became evident that I needed to stop the attempt at perfection. Good enough is good enough. It takes practice to leave the house without makeup or showering, to let the house be messy when friends come over, and to wear the same pants every day for a week, because I'm tired and there aren't any clean ones. It takes discipline to believe that all the imperfect things in my life do not define me as a person. Sure, perfection has it's appropriate place in everyone's life, but when that perfection is not achieved it's okay. I can try again tomorrow, or the day after that.

The irony? When I'm good to myself, I'm good to others; and all of that feels good.

Anyway, here I am... thirty-five years old! That seriously sounds old, you guys. The most darling, sweet thing: my husband says I look young for my age. I'll take it! Ha ha... the irony of that is, I don't really care about my greying hair, my sagging eyelids, and crows feet. Vanity seems to have taken a back seat for awhile. While she's back there, I'll continue to work on my heart and soul, because as most of us know, the seasons of darkness comes and go. Learning to keep myself on track while facing the dark is a challenge I just may have mastered by the time forty-five rolls around; and if not, I'll try to have it mastered by fifty-five. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mind Over Matter

Photo Credit: Tree Porn
Ain't that the truth! We've lived in Indiana for over a year and a half and I still miss the trees, rivers, rocks, waterfalls and ocean. Sigh...

At what point does a person truly find beauty in the place they're in?

I'm attempting to keep an open heart toward this place they call the Midwest; an open heart toward beauty, simplicity and good times.

Still waiting. Not convinced this is it.

In my waiting I will make the most of the relationships I'm building, the life we have have here and the home we adore.

Sure the land is flat, brown, boring... but there is good everywhere, right? I keep telling myself this... and will try to convince my mind and heart of this very thing as long as it takes.

Pray for me. Because seriously, you guys... it's rough out here.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

At the end of the day, we're all enough.

It's Friday (started this on Friday...)  and like most, I'm attempting to get through the final day of the week. My body resisted climbing out of bed this morning and I found myself worn out from being "on point" all week (let's be honest... I was never on point at any point this week).  Fridays are like, "If I can just make it through one more day..."

Ironically, with Matt's schedule lately, it's been endless days of "if I can just get through one more day..." 

At points, I recognize survival is the only goal for the day, the week and often, the month. Get through it. Meals, clothing, tidy house, school work, few social obligations.... do it all over again. It can feel mind-numbing and often incredibly isolating. The monotonous day in and day out of a noble motherhood experience, and yet... there is always someone, somewhere telling me I should be doing more.

This is a trap; the feeling of needing to do more. I fall into it daily.

I'm told I should be doing more situps to achieve that flat stomach. I should be doing more meditation to give the world more of an open heart. I should be reading the Bible more often, to enrich my spirit. I should be praying for my husband, my child, my family, my friends, my pastor, my neighbors, my church, my kids' friends, their families.... I should be eating healthier food. I should be reading more self-help books. I should be reading more fiction! Dangit, I should start a book club. I should go for a run, because nothing is healthier than a strong heart and cellulite-free thighs. I should be participating in a women's club. 

This is just the tip of the iceburg... I could name 100 more things I should be doing as a mother, a teacher, a wife and as a friend. The list often feels endless.

If I'm being honest, I've attempted to imagine accomplishing all of those things I'm told are good, and right and noble. Daily, I beat myself up for not completing my mental to-do list and monthly I recount all the failures I've stacked against myself. Annually, I look back and see only the "important" things I didn't do... the goals I didn't achieve.

This horribly destructive pattern is tearing me apart, and I can bet I'm not the only one out there trying to keep up. 

What if I laid down all the stuff that doesn't really matter? What if I focused on the things that do matter? Stuff like, playing with my kid and laughing with my husband. Creating wholesome meals that are tried and true...nothing fancy or over-the-top expensive. What if I focused on my child's character building through relationship, instead of pushing memory verses on him daily? What if I accepted myself the way I am, and then learned to love myself... instead of believing I should be firmer, thinner, prettier...smarter?

Sigh... deep breaths and let's take a minute to think about all the expectations we set for ourselves.... and then imagine how many of those expectations really matter to us. Like, REALLY matter.

I am trying to let go of all the obligitory expectations (it's a slow process, mind you), and as I do so I am realizing it becomes easier for me to see evidence of the things I am doing right. Clearing the air allows me to see where my real values lie... and then, in turn, I am able to invest in those things that matter to me the most. Ignoring the expecations the world dumps in my lap, gives me head space to foster and nurture the values we hold most dear to in our own family. 

It's a daily battle to simplify, especially when I've been in my head for years. Trying to be better is often a trap that is measured against the impossible, and though it is noble and right to want to improve on ourselves, we have to accept that we can only do so much. 

Instead of keeping up, I'd like to thrive. If thriving means only doing a few things a day or setting smalls goals that are truly acheivable for the time of life I'm in, then I'm on board. I'm tired of feeling like I'm not enough, I'm not accomplishing enough, and I'm not good enough. At the end of the day, we're all enough. We have only ourselves to give... and that, my friends is enough.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. This is not from yourselves, but a gift from God; not by works, so that no one can boast.
-Ephesians 2:8

Friday, January 30, 2015

Do The Work and Find A Therapist

Photo: Yumi Kim

January is by far my least favorite month of the year. Some would think it's great... starting over, fresh beginnings, and nothing to plan for. For me, it's bleak.

This particular January has been a rough one. I've come to accept the fact that I cannot manage my depression on my own. It's a day to day basis, and frankly I've had more bad days than good ones the past six weeks... or the past year... or maybe my entire life? It's all in question right now.

Christmas was beautiful... my parents came to Muncie, and we celebrated in such meaningful ways. Togetherness is something that always touches my heart, and having them here for a couple weeks was an incredible gift!

In spite of the festivities, I still had this cloud of grey over my heart. It seems, I cannot remember a time when I was genuinely happy, or light-hearted. It seems everything is weighted or heavy-laden... tainted with some kind of sadness. I am unable to truly be free. At times, I've felt this happiness people speak of, but just as I seem to get a grip, it is lost again.

I am unsure why I'm sharing this.

This morning I did the easy thing... I lost it on my husband. Just ugly crying, slinging judgement, accusations, resentment, blame... all of the ugly came pouring out. Everything I've fought years to learn to control came tumbling out. There was no hiding everything that has been my heart. I caught a glimpse of myself and was immediately ashamed of how far I've let myself go. How far I've slid from the woman I know I really am.

This is where guilt, shame and embarassment reside. We're all very familiar with one another... they and I.  

After Matt left for work, I did my own work and found a therapist. The sense of relief was slight, but it was there. 

Right now the tears are partially for my brokeness, but mostly for grace. I've felt lost, but truly in my heart I know I am never lost. I am known, loved and wanted. I know this, but I don't feel it. I don't know why, but I'm rewarded with an incredibly patient husband, and friendships with whom I can be honest.

I look at others and often wonder: How are they so free?

Monday will be a step in the right direction... a step toward healing. Not just temporary healing, but life-changing, mending the broken pieces, becoming whole again, healing...freedom. 


Monday, November 10, 2014

The Freedom Of Homeschool

Waking up this morning, I realized it's November! I mean, I knew it was November... but whoa! It IS November and that means Winter, The Holidays, snow, cold weather, cookies, crafting, cabin-fever and all the good things (and some unpleasant) that go along with this season!

I've sort of laid off the blog for awhile. I went through a time of not wanting to "talk." Does this ever happen to you? For me, I felt overwhelmed as I jumped into a new season of new experiences. The need to evaluate without explanation was ever-present, and as we ventured through the Fall season, I didn't have answers.

Now I'm feeling a little more clarity, and I think I want to talk about our homeschooling experience thus far.

Homeschooling with Lucas has been (for the most part) incredibly fun. Honestly, it's often the best part of our day! Lucas will ask me when we get to do "schoolwork?" This warms my heart, immensely.

That being said, homeschooling can feel a bit like a beast... tame, as long as I don't over-think things too much. There are days when I think "we should be doing more," which lead to feelings of potential failure or maybe I'm not providing all the content he needs. In my heart, I know this is a total untruth. But homeschooling can seriously be a beast!

In full honesty, I felt completely overwhelmed at the start. I knew in my heart that this was the right decision for our family; for Lucas. The longer I sought out curriculum, structure, content, and advice, the more ill-equipped I felt. If there is one thing I can suggest to all parents out there: Do not look at ALL THE BLOGS and set that as an expectation for yourself. If you didn't feel overwhelmed or completely unqualified before, you will after reading blogs and websites that tell you how to do it. Just don't.

After a couple summer months of preparing, I finally decided to not choose a curriculum set. I realized that there is no "package" made for every child and the reason I am homeschooling Lucas is to provide an education that is good for HIM. I chose a base workbook that is a suited for general Kindergarten. This would ensure Lucas is getting all the content he would learn in Kindergarten classroom (it's vitally important to me that he get content he would get in a "regular" classroom, in addition to what we provide at home). This workbook is the smallest part of our homeschool experience, as I build on it with other content Lucas and I are interested in (Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Art, Music, Spanish...Volcanoes!). Once I released the idea of having to shape our homeschool experience to fit into a specific curriculum, the whole thing suddently felt feasible. If curriculum matched our needs, homeschooling felt doable in our home.

This free-thinking approach to homeschooling opened my eyes (and heart) to the possibilities that lay waiting for us as a family. The weight was lifted. When people ask me what we use as a guideline in our family I say: we are a little bit Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Classical Education, and still evolving. Essentially, I finally understood that there are very few rules (outside of the rules we set for our own home) to being a homeschool family... and that felt great!

This mentality of freedom is a concept I'm attempting to extend into other areas of my personal life at home. The bondage of "I should be doing more" is something I've lived under for years... and honestly, I continue to fail at. That feeling of failure is just the worst, and as I've ventured into homeschool territory I decided I didn't want to bring that to the table. I'm still evaluating why I often think this way, and while I ponder this way of thinking, I'm working on saying "no thanks."

As I say "no thanks" in my personal life, I'm pushing this mind-set into raising our little human too. Letting him be a child. This feels like the best gift I can give him right now. Honestly, I'm not homeschooling Lucas so that he can be the best at everything. I'm homeschooling him so he can be the best version of himself and that means he's happy, free, secure, and understands he is deeply loved.

As we continue this journey of being a family, I'm continually reminded that we are constantly learning how to serve each other. Lucas will continue to learn how to be a human, and as his mother I will continue to evaluate how to teach, shape, and offer life-lessons. No two days look the same, nor should they. As I continue to learn how to educate my child, I too am learning more about myself. It's a great feeling!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Here's to September in Indiana.

Oh August! Where have you gone!? 

The past month seems to have just flown by... I blinked and there it went. We are fully immersed in September, and there is a faint waft of Fall in the air. Change was on the horizon and now it's fully descended upon us, whether we like it or not.

Matt has completed his first full show of the year (Next To Normal), and per usual, he was stretched thin. While accomplishing that, he finished the sound design and editing of a full length documentary (The Hatfield Project), out of Portland, Oregon. Needless to say, Matt's last week of August and first week of September were busy! The adjustment in our home has been a deep challenge, and no matter how hard I try and prepare myself for this annual transition, it still slams me down and steps all over my face.

One of this years I'll finally get the hang of it.

Lucas and I are full swing into school here at home. It's been nice to have structure in our days again. I find myself REALLY thankful we're home this year for school as we're able to enjoy this season, the weather, and various activities we have around town. Our Little Critter is full of life! He is busy, silly, and a real active learner. Most of our "lessons" come from nature walks, playing games, and moving our bodies! I find myself exhausted at the end of the day from endless talking and ceaseless movement. His wonder for life right now is continually laced with joy, excitement and eagerness. I am always having to remind myself that "it won't always be like this, so enjoy it while it is!"

School work with Keith Richards.

After we finish Math, we go for a walk and have a little fun outdoors.

I've decided to be busy this Fall, even though it goes against everything in my personal values. For Lucas we have Tap Dance (I know! I'm excited to see how this goes...), Piano Lessons, Homeschool PE, and Soccer. It's no coincindence these are all kinesthetic classes, because IS IT POSSIBLE TO WEAR OUT A FIVE YEAR OLD!? Some days I wonder...

Matt's activities are work, and then a little bit of work, and just a smidge of work.

My activities include a couple social groups. It's been my goal to try and plug into Muncie as a community... to find those pockets of people who are really loving this community into the place she's intended to be. In addition, I've recently joined a professional choir here in Muncie. The Masterworks Choral group should be a great place to meet both professional and art-inspired people who enjoy the gift of vocal performance. 

In the Winter, when it's bitter cold out, we're planning our holidays, and eating a lot of carbohydrates, we will scale it all back. Only do one or two activities and really focus on hibernating (I say this jokingly, but really... let's be serious. I'll be hibernating).

As we prepare for cooler weather, I still continue my yard and garden ventures. It seems I could be in the yard every day, all day... and still have more to do! Thankfully, I enjoy it and find it intensely relaxing. Except, the mowing half an acre with a push mower. That's tough.

Kitteh likes to spend time in the backyard too!

My Rose of Sharon continues to bloom, and as she does so, she adds so much beauty to our back yard.

This beauty is called a "resurrection lily" and just literally appeared out of nowhere! She's just as fragrant and beautiful as can be!
We have had the fortune of having an abundance of hummingbirds this summer!

So... August is gone and September is here. A lot has happened, and as I mull over my feelings, my heart, and my desires for this school year, I can't help but feel lucky. Each day slips by full of learning, gardening, house work, meals, and home-life. All these hats I wear often feel heavy. In spite of the heaviness, I see how many gifts I have and I cannot deny how fortunate I am for this time in our lives.


Saturday, August 09, 2014

Last Weekend Of Summer Break

This is the last weekend of our summer for the year. Matt starts school next week and from that point forward, every waking moment will be consumed with responsibility for things outside of our home.

Most of you know how stressful and consuming Matt's job can be, so when I say that I'm seriously grieving the loss of summer, you may understand. Things change, and having experienced this transition for nearly ten years, I know how challenging it will be.

That being said, it's been a great summer in our new home, new town (Muncie still leaves a lot to be desired) and with new friends. To be honest, it's my nature to think of all the things I wished for and haven't accomplished: camping, kayaking, fishing, hiking, exploring and such; but when I focus on what we gained this past summer, I couldn't be more thankful.

The past month has been full of naps, snacks, impromptu projects (we almost have the whole interior of our house painted!), sleeping late, thrift shopping (our favorite), eating lots of good foods, hanging with friends, gardening, and long talks of schemes and plans (my favorite!). I feel it's in these times of relaxation when our family is most whole. We don't really need "activities"... we just need togetherness.

So here we go! On to a new year of making income, creating programs, shaping young adults lives and careers, learning new things and most of all, hanging in there! Every school year is yet another opportunity to learn how to truly be partners and a family unit in the midst of life.