In Bits and Pieces

Like many people, especially in Nebraska, our January was neither terribly healthy nor very happy at times due to rolling sickness in our household. Spending eight days of various children coming down with various degrees of fever was exhausting and even though we’ve been fever free for a week now (knock on ALL the wood), we’re still recovering.

Today also marks the end of our first full week of school since the Christmas break. That’s in part due to breaks and weather, but mostly illness, and holy moly cow, we are feeling it. Or, at least I am, as it feels like the only word that truly describes this week + my children would be: RELENTLESS.

img_2967Actually, that’s not fair. It mostly pertains to one particular child who absolutely will not leave my side (NO: I am not pregnant. It is not that kind of clinging) and will not let me get anything done because he wants me to build with him all the live-long day. And it’s not just asking, it’s whining and demanding and oh. my. gosh. Do you know how many Lego towers and gas stations I have built this week? Me neither, but I wish I had a nap for every one because I bet in that case, I’d feel a whole lot better than I do right now.

How am I writing this then, if TJ has been so stuck to me? Finally, a blessed bit of Netflix to the rescue. Now, if only I could decide which of the 50 things I need to do most in this moment of quiet (grade papers, fold laundry, read a book, pee, do the dishes, eat, yoga, absolutely freaking nothing). But instead, I need to write because January sucked for that and long as they are, these days are worth documenting, too.

Now, it doesn’t help that our house is in bits and pieces still, too. And will be….forever, it seems, but really at least for the very distant, foreseeable future as not one of the five (so help me Baby Jesus) spaces is actually complete yet and we’re already two months in to the process. I am not going to complain about the fact that we are working and able to make our house work better for our family, but I am going to lament the hell out of the fact that progress is slow, my day-to-day privacy is nill, and there is still SO much left to be done before we can get back to normal.

For the sake of fairness, not all of January was crap. It got me through 2/3 of my first time teaching two classes in one term for BU. It gave me (OK, I took by staying up too late) time to read. I did 30 Days of yoga through an online challenge AND attended some kick ass public classes taught by friends, including one with sweet RL on the mat next to me. I even added some yoga teaching back to my schedule for the coming month.

But bless it, I really need a respite from the building…of Legos, of house stuff, of all the things that are distracting the bejeebies out of me right now because it is crazy making.

And of course none of that is possible because that’s not reality. Reality means I have a 3-yr-old who needs me right now, so I have to be there for him, even when it mean building my umpteenth Lego tower of the week. Reality means we’ve committed to home improvements that are going to take t-i-m-e while we live in the chaos of it, so I have to be patient even when I want it all done yesterday, please and thank you.

And reality means continuing to find ways, in whatever blessed little bits and pieces I can, to carve out time for that which calms me down and brings me back to center. Like this, and like whatever I can eek out next to keep the system going.

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Four Words

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the last time I did a New Year’s resolution. Maybe if I went back on the blog and looked I would see, but as good as my memory can tell me, it has been a while.

2019 will be no different. No resolution, no promises.

What I have instead, rattling around my brain, are words. Shocking, yes?

For a few weeks now, I’ve been wanting to make a list of words to use when I meditate, when I practice yoga, when I cook, when I’m driving the kids to school, whenever I am doing whatever I happen to be doing…words to guide and ground and remind me.

So today seemed like a good day to make that list and narrow it down because, another shocking revelation, I can get extra wordy sometimes and I wanted my list to be short enough to be able to remember but long enough to still mean something.

I settled on four. Four words that I’ll use as long as I need into this calendar year to keep me coming back to home base, back to self love, back to center.

They are as follows: nurture, focus, dedicate, calm.

These are the words I desire to fill my heart and my mind with in the coming days and weeks (maybe months) as we step back into work and school and life following this long winter break.

I want to remember that I nurture myself when I take time to honor what I need in any given day. I also give greatly and am happy to do so when I nurture others.

I want to stay focused on both the present moment and¬†future goals. Juxtaposition? You bet. But that’s life. Focus works both ways; it keeps us grounded in what is happening here and now AND it keeps us working toward where we want to be, what we want to accomplish.

I want to stay dedicated. To those goals, to my self, to my practices. We’ve got a lot of moving parts happening around here in early 2019 and if I don’t stick with the things that keep me sane, it won’t be a pretty sight. I’m also kicking off the year with a 30 day Yoga fest with Yoga with Adriene online called Dedicate, so the stars aligned on that one.

And lastly, calm. It’s what I’ve been seeking forever it seems, and perhaps I always will. That doesn’t mean I’m doing this life stuff wrong, it just means I can still get spun up in the details and think myself into circles, so calm is the ultimate goal. The navigation of all the ups, downs, and around and arounds.

So there you have it. Four simple words. Four lofty goals. Four important reminders. Four ways to move with intention into all that this new year holds.

Happy New Year, friends. I wish you all the best with your words, whatever they may be! (side note: some of my words were inspired by the stones in a new mala that was recently gifted to me. inspiration is everywhere.)

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Captain Distraction

Lately I have been noticing some habits, some tendencies of mine, that are in need of checking. Please consider this the check.

Like so many, I live with my phone in my pocket, my hand, or on a nearby surface. Because I stream music from it (a LOT), I almost always hear the few little chimes and dings for messages which means I pick up/look at my phone a LOT in a given day. More often than not, these little check-ins turn in to little scroll sessions, mostly on FB, thanks to the power of the little red notification dot. And lately I’ve been feeling ickier and ickier about the pull this has on me.

I am too distracted by the dots. Too drawn away like I have zero attention span to read a comment or see what’s new since the last time I checked. I don’t mind that my kids see me on my phone; it’s that I don’t think my habits are especially helpful for my own self right now; rather, they warrant a change.

So I did a thing and deleted FB off my phone.

It is ridiculous how twitchy I’ve been about it all.

Of course this doesn’t mean I’ll never touch it again (it being both my phone and FB); there are still messages to keep up with and I’m still on my computer every day for work, so I can get my FB fix there; but at least during the awake hours of my kids, I won’t get sucked in to so many little checks of it. Which again, is as much for my own sanity as anything.

I love social media and all the power and potential it holds for connection; what needs to change for me, for now, though is the power it holds over my focus and my scroll-happy hands.

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No Time for Time Frames

As all aspects of life do, my journey with body image struggles and body dysmorphia have had an ebb and flow feeling to them in the last year. At times I have been far too (read: entirely) consumed by the tasks of mothering and me-ing to be all too concerned about how my body looked and if I was “getting that post-baby” body back. At others I have been bogged down by the very fact that no, I am not getting that.

But honestly, after nine years of pregnancies (I found out just after Thanksgiving, 2008 about the first and delivered the fifth just before Thanksgiving 2017), what does that body even mean? What exactly would it even look like? Does any 36 yr old much resemble their 26 yr old self? With or without child bearing and birth?

I think what’s getting under my skin right now (beyond the fact that my three oldest children are of that age and we are of that stage where they’ve maybe been trained to start expecting a pregnancy announcement sometime soon [nope; never again] and keep making ridiculous statements about my belly) is that Wilson’s almost a year old. That means I’ve totally passed the sort-of accepted “40 weeks in/40 weeks out” time frame in which we give moms out to “bounce” back.

Yeah. Not much bouncing around here, folks.

I could give you a laundry list of reasons as to why (laundry could be one of them, come to think of it) this is so. The one that interests me most currently is that as much as I still feel societal and internal pressure to be as trim/fit/what-have-you as I have been before, I also am working really, really hard to just be OK with what IS.

And this is me:

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For the last month, I’ve hardly worn jeans or real pants. It’s been leggings and workout pants and sweats on constant repeat [Full disclosure: it’s probably going to stay like that for a while because my littlest two littles keep sharing germs with each other and me]. So I don’t really have my normal markers of knowing how things fit to gauge how I feel. (I haven’t been on a scale and actually seen the weight on it in five years. I can’t know those numbers and also know my sanity). I have still been doing my 30 minutes a day of yoga, but even that hasn’t been enough to keep the negative thought spiral from happening lately. Clearly, I have to keep working on that, and part of that acceptance and moving through it is honesty.

That pants in that picture (in which my shirt matches the wall AND my phone)? Those are maternity leggings and I LOVE them. I bought them last year to get me through the end of Wilson’s pregnancy. They were a size bigger than I normally wear in maternity clothes. And I’m still wearing them now, just shy of her first birthday. And they’re not all that loose. And you know what? That is what is. Am I thrilled about it? Not really. But does it define me? Hardly.

My weight at my six-week post-delivery appointment with Baby Lincoln is what sent me to counseling in the first place for body image concerns. I just knew I couldn’t keep living with that pressure. While the pressure and the thought spiral both still exist and get worse some times more than others for me, I can look at these leggings that I love, that I never thought I’d still be wearing and say: OK. Here is where I am in this body right now. Time frames and pressure to be different be damned.

I know I won’t feel quite this OK with what is every day, but any day that I can get a little bit of that peace? I’ll take it, leggings and all.

 

 

You Gotta Be

Recently I had to tell someone “no” to a request of my time. Full disclosure, I had already (many, many months ago) told them “yes,” so my “no” was totally a backing out which isn’t great to do, but sometimes it is just as necessary as it is shitty.

As has been pretty clear on the sparse, random posts of this month, 95% of October has kicked our butts. After the baby got sick and everyone else either recovered or maintained health, I got a full-on seven day sore throat that wrecked the majority of last week for me. I am just now, on the 29th of the month, sort of coming out of the fog of travel and sickness and pure on exhaustion. So no, when I got the call to remind about the thing I said I’d do darn near a year ago, “yes” could no longer be my answer even though I knew that was going to be displeasing and problematic for the asker.

I get it. It sucks when people leave you hanging. But it also sucks when you run yourself ragged for the sake of others. And I was honest. It would have been easy to lie and say that I had an appointment and couldn’t be there. But instead I straight up said we’ve had a crazy, draining month and that I. Just. Couldn’t. Do. It.

Let me be real for a second….

I have no day time help (minus the fact that Ben can alternate preschool pickup with me most of the every-other days). I run a shuttle service. I am a professional waiter (not of food, but of time during speech and before/after preschool). I provide all the food, play, naps, bathroom duties, and the million other jobs of a daycare provider/SAH parent. I also own a business and work a separate job from home (which is bonkers hard, y’all, when your little people are still in that same home with you all the live-long days). I survive on coffee, social media, uplifting and also snarky GIFs and messages with my girlfriends, and books. And yoga. Always yoga. I don’t get to go out for lunch because I can’t afford a babysitter, much less find one, and my sweet 11 month old baby still won’t let anyone besides B hold her, so no. I don’t really have much effort or energy left for commitments outside the home because my home sucks every last drop out of me.

Clearly I feel guilty for backing out. You see that, right? But I’m writing this to remind myself of two things: 1) it is 110% OK to put my own air mask on first by saying “no” to something I don’t want to do. Even if it doesn’t feel that way, it IS. And 2) when I am no longer in this stage of parenting, may I please forever remember that when I ask something of a mama who IS still in it, that I always, always lead with, “How can I help?”

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Dissent

In the two weeks since my trip to DC, which happened to be roughly two days in which I lived at least three lifetimes, we have had non-stop child sickness in our house which has made this October the longest of Octobers in the history of ever and not in a cute pumpkin and scarf/boot kind of way. Truman took 13 days to recover. Raegan is on Day 6, and Wilson is on Day 1.5.

It has been an intense month.

And, needless to say, the sleep deficit around here as of late has also been bonkers, which hasn’t helped how any of us are feeling about this October to end all Octobers.

Also cast to the wayside with my sleep, really, has been my time to recover and process all that went down in DC. In fact, I am still dealing with the intensity of emotions surrounding my experience both in DC and that which led me to be part of that trip. The 48 odd hours that I was actually gone were packed with so much effort, on so many levels, that I legit had nothing left to give when it came to anything outside of our lobby tasks.

No sight-seeing. No souvenir shopping (except for keychains for the children at the airport). No friend/family visiting on the East Coast. No protests or marches even because just to do our prep work and meetings was enough to take it out of this first time advocate.

And that’s OK.

It was a matter of self-care to give myself permission to set all else aside and just be there for what was asked of me for the trip. (Have I mentioned yet how incredible and trauma-aware the ACLU folks were before, during, and after our Senate staff meetings? I know that part of my empowerment and strength those two days came directly from them being so supportive of and sensitive to their audience. From the language they used in emails to the pre-Hill trainings and stress-management techniques they shared with us, they has us covered. And you know the yoga teacher in me loved the breathing techniques they shared with the group.)

Why I still don’t really feel recovered two weeks later, though, is because life carries on. Especially when you have little Littles still in the picture, you don’t get to go off and be an adult only and then come home and still be an individual, too. I dove head first into advocacy and then head first back into parenting, and the super exhausting kind of parenting, too, where you are worried about and tending too a million extra germ-induced tasks each day. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t still been fighting the good fight.

Contrary to what some folks seem to think, I did not go in to this experience under a false assumption that it would definitely yield the results I wanted. Not at all. I knew, based on my Senators’ voting records and tendencies that neither I nor the group I traveled with would be likely to change their minds. But that was no reason not to go and I am glad I did not let that likelihood keep me from saying “yes” to the offer.

Using your voice, even when it shakes, even when you know it is likely to fall on deaf ears (which are often quite synonymous with closed minds)? That is dissent, my friends, and it is good and right to still let your voice cry out even when you know the decision has already been made.

Semi-side note: In case you can’t tell, I have been obsessed with Ruth Bader Ginsberg lately. As in, read a book, located a documentary, and ordered my very own version of her dissent necklace (half of the proceeds of each one sold go to some pretty rockin’ charities), all in the last two weeks. So this, along with a wall print of the shot of our lobby group that was taken on the steps of the Russell Senate Building after our meetings, is how I commemorate my trip and the use of my voice, even when it turned out ultimately to be one of dissent, not (yet) direct change.

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Four Weeks

Tuesdays.

Oh, Tuesdays.

Historically, these are my challenge days. Sometimes I meet them with grace. Sometimes I meet them with chocolate. Sometimes meeting them with chocolate IS meeting them with grace.

Today is rainy (again) and cold (again) and it seems that Mother Nature is really feeling me on this Tuesday.

It’s been one week since I found out that I was going to DC to lobby and in that week I am fairly certain I have lived 1,000 lifetimes. I have certainly experienced 1,000 emotions, and continue to do so on this Tuesday that feels weepy and a little bit hard and a whole lot gray.

But here’s the deal. You know I am all for feeling all the feels. I am a firm believer through my yoga teaching/practice, through my therapy, and through my parenting, that you can’t live without ALL the emotions, even the difficult ones. It is what you do with them, how you move through them, how you use them that matters, and you are not a failure for experiencing the hard ones.

So even though today feels like it landed on the heavy end of the emotional spectrum, that doesn’t mean all is lost. I know that I’m going to feel a million different pieces of life today, and if some of them – many of them – are the processing and purging of all the intensity I have lived in the last seven days, so be it. Like so many others, I have been re-traumatized by recent national events and I am doing all that I can to give myself grace right now, as I hope you are, too.

I thought that grace might look like stepping away. Away from social media, away from the public, just away.

And while we did take some much needed buffer/family time over the weekend, I have not gone in to complete hiding mode. For one, I am not ashamed that our trip did not result in the changes we hoped to see, and I am for sure not letting that defeat silence me. For another, I know that we have – from this very Tuesday – only four weeks left until the mid-terms elections, and I don’t know about you, but they feel like the most important mid-terms of my life.

So I am here and I am going to continue to show up here and other places online (and eventually in public when my introverted heart feels ready to do so) to remind everyone of that important, impending deadline of November 6. And I am going to encourage you – all of you – including those of you who don’t agree with my politically (which, if you’re even still reading this, thank you, because the need to see each other as human even though we differ in public policies is so necessary right now) to vote. Educate yourself on your candidates. Ask questions. Mark your calendars. And use your (in many cases, hard fought) right to case your ballot in four short weeks.

Because not all Tuesdays have to suck and we CAN be the change we do desperately desire to see in this world. We just have to show up for it.

Side note: this was clearly not taken on this particular rainy Tuesday.

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