Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ebbs and flows

Well, that rush of energy has abated somewhat. I always have the most oomph at the beginning of things. I haven't been massaging them EVERY night, and it's a little messier around here now that we don't have guests for a bit, and I forgot to empty Eden's folders. But it's still mostly good, and all of these things will continue to get done, and I will massage again on some nights. You can't stay on the mountaintop forever, and it's grace to be able to get there in the first place (concrete grace like all those gifts I mentioned). I'm happy to move forward down into the next green valley and then up another mountain. I would just like to avoid the dark swamps for awhile.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ULTIMATE WINS

Oh my garshness. Oh my garsh. I just need to celebrate on here.

--My house is continually beautiful and mostly clean.

--I continue to paint and freshen like crazy.

--I am sitting down and doing homework with Gideon every night.

--I am clearing out the crapload of papers from each kids' take-home folder every night.

--I am staying on top of laundry.

--I am massaging each of them for 5 minutes before bed.

--I am reading a bedtime story to the girls every night.

--I am putting on music for them to fall asleep to.

--I am kissing all of them and pulling Gideon onto my lap even though he pretends to not like it (he does).

--I am packing them cold lunches.

--I am picking them up from school every day so that they don't have to ride the bus for an extra 45 minutes.

--I am even going to go to Sam's house on Thursdays after school to help Gid with his homework.

I AM THE MOM I ALWAYS DREAMED I COULD BE! At least until the next major stressor slams into my life, but outside of a life-threatening illness or loss of loved one, I'm pretty sure I've got control over most of the other possibilities. (Not planning a wedding anytime soon. Not conceiving a baby anytime soon. Not changing jobs. Not moving. Not even adding more than 6 credits of school per semester.)

I attribute this to my hard work, my parents giving me a flexible job, my boyfriend being a foundation of love and strength, Eden being potty trained and in preschool 5 days a week, making extra money with which to spruce up the house through AirBNB.com, keeping in close contact with my dearest friend Jenny whose stories of mothering help me to feel like "I can do that too!", and these beautiful beings who grace my home with their honesty and humor and, yes, still occasional pure animal behavior. (Oh yes, and having been on prescription vitamin D for a year, and having been divorced for awhile, and all those other things you've already read about on here.)

My dining room. We actually ate pizza here the other night. (We're still eating cereal otherwise, but I have hope for better nutriotional strides in the months to come.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Regal Beachness


I drank caffeine so I'm up late. I'm in Oak Island NC with Nate and some of our friends. I saw a lot of random mentions of "blue sky" last week leading up to this (freedom! peace!) and also a lot of random crowns everywhere. I'm feeling peaceful and solidified. And confident. Funny that I wrote that last post because I feel free and open and just -- myself. I feel like I am 30 and I like it. Though I'm the only parent on the trip, I don't feel odd like I used to for so long. These friends see and know Bethany in all my facets and just accept them. I'm a mom. I'm not only a mom, and I'm a good mom.

I also noticed today that I can casually mention my divorce in a conversation without feeling anything. I must have purged most of it. Maybe the NYT got the last of that shit out. Maybe its just time passing. Whatever it is, I love it.

Six or seven years ago I bought myself a necklace and chose two little charms - a crown and the word "relax." Initially I was going to buy the word "believe" but that seemed too guilt-inducing and heavy. I felt like God was reassuring me, "Relax, I'm making you into a queen."

I've been able to do that this trip in new ways. I worked extremely hard last week, up until the minute Nate came to pick me up. And it pushed me to a new breaking point of just being done with overextending my caregivingness, nurturing, mothering. I got here and just felt an inner sense of "I can stay in my boundaries and be okay." That's made room for other people to give to me. Queens work hard, and they also kick back in beauty and receptiveness. The beach has showered me with treasure, like the moment yesterday when I was laying marveling at a drop of water inches from my vision like a diamond blessing my skin, and noticing how pretty my hair was next to it. I've been dreaming a lot about jewelry lately, twice about lost or dropped treasures and once about choosing between three different rings that symbolized my feminine work and achievement.

Just wrote a quote in my journal today from a book, "Mindfulness," that resonated: "At last, after so long, happiness - fragmentary, perhaps, and charged with gravity, but true and unmistakable none the less - had returned to her." I just now realized that it was talking about Queen Victoria.

Friday, August 12, 2011

unsure-ity

The comma is broken on my keyboard and let me tell you that's a pain in the arse. (See where it should have been? Just NOT THERE.)

While falling asleep last night I thought about confidence - the lack of it and the getting back of it. I don't know if I'll be struggling with it forever
, because that does seem to be a human condition (that comma is what happens when I press control+v because I am smart and I can circumvent computer errors). There's a lot of literature about "it has to come from inside you" blah blah blah, but I think there are just ebbs and flows, and it *is* largely dependent on life circumstances. You aren't going to have it while you're in a toxic relationship. Doesn't matter how strong you are or how hard you try to find yourself and center with God.

You are going to have it when your projects are working
, your kids seem happy and open, your house doesn't feel like a total sty. Getting there is a bugger of a process, though. And during that process you probably won't feel strong or confident, and that's when you stay close to sheltering moments of beauty, silence; stay close to sheltering friends. You may be so sensitive and vulnerable that you have to just stay close to your home and not even see friends. That's the hardest part for other people to understand, but it happens.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"On our own, looking out of the hall window onto the garden and the gathering darkness, we can slowly resume contact with a more authentic self, who was there waiting in the wings for us to end our performance at work. Our submerged playful sides will derive encouragement from the painted flowers on either side of the door. The value of gentleness will be confirmed by the delicate folds of the curtains. Our interest in a modest, tender-hearted kind of happiness will be fostered by the unpretentious raw wooden floorboards. The materials around us will speak to us of the highest hopes we have for ourselves. In this setting, we can come close to a state of mind marked by integrity and vitality. We can feel inwardly liberated. We can, in a profound sense, return home."

When you're going through major life changes, identity crises usually accompany them. (Married to single, country to city, 20s to 30s, woman to mother-woman.) I thought I liked Swedish style decor the best when I was in my mid-20s. I'm a romantic, but Shabby Chic was too frilly for me; I like more color, on the one hand, and more simple lines on the other. Up until recently I was too down, and down on myself, to care, but putting together my guest room has revitalized my sense of "Yeah, that's me, and that's okay." (That's my guest room up there, and I'm proud of it. I got those lights for Christmas 8 years ago, found the chenille bedspread 6 years ago, got the pillow shams two years ago on sale, got the mattress for free from a friend, splurged on the curtain rod from West Elm, and got the chair for $10. PROUD.)


Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Architecture of Happiness


"Life may have to show itself to us in some of its authentically tragic colours before we can begin to grow properly visually responsive to its subtler offerings, whether in the form of a tapestry or a Corinthian column, a slate tile or a lamp... It is in dialogue with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value." (Alain de Botton)

I'm in Wisconsin again but my heart and mind are very much connected to all the work I'm doing on my home. Nate was saying to me last week, "It just took awhile for you to be ready to make the changes around you," and that was some of it; when you're in a period of grieving, you don't want to paint things white. But some of it is just not having the money - or at least feeling like you don't have it.

This book nailed it: "It is to prevent the possibility of permanent anguish that we can be led to shut our eyes to most of what is around us, for we are never far from damp stains and cracked ceilings, shattered cities and rusting dockyards. We can't remain sensitive indefinitely to environments which we don't have the means to alter for the good - and end up as conscious as we can afford to be. Echoing the attitude of Stoic philosophers and saints, we may find ourselves arguing that, ultimately, it doesn't much matter what buildings look like, what is on the ceiling or how the wall is treated - professions of detachment that stem not so much from an insensitivity to beauty as from a desire to deflect the sadness we would face if we left ourselves open to all of beauty's many absences."

But now that I've got a little money, I'm realizing that it doesn't take as much as I thought it did when I was complaining about all the things I couldn't do. My porch light is a sturdy old frame with busted plastic pieces uglifying it, revealing the yellowed light bulbs inside. For less than $5, I realized I can go out, buy some kind of flame-retardant pretty-print plastic at the scrapbooking store, and replace the cracked plastic and paint the black frame, and it will be new. Good enough. Lots of good enough things can be done that will re-energize.

I remember reading advice to make a list of the parts of your house that drain the most energy, that you feel negativity when your eye falls on. Holes, cracks, dark places. The tip was to just put one pretty thing there to turn the energy momentum of the area. I've gotten some bright fake flowers on sale at Michael's and stuck them in those places, or taped up colored prints of Jessie Wilcox Smith mothering images on those walls. And you know, it works. It's jedi house magic. It puts hope in those places, and the hope gives you energy to get out the paint, and the freshly painted surface gives you the willpower to forgo eating out and channel that money to whatever new thing needs to be purchased for that area.

Homes are important. I've spent the year going back to college, getting caught up on traveling, and now I'm ready to put down beauty roots, to create my own - in the words of this book - "island of perfection, in which we can find an echo of an ideal which we once hoped to lay a permanent claim to."

Monday, August 1, 2011

blooming rainbows

I was cleaning the house and gathering up the 3 birthday cards I got almost 2 months ago now, and stopped to appreciate their theme. Two years ago, seriously, every card I got was lavender/purple (the color of a queen). This year, it's about a profusion of multicolored abundance. And it has been.