March 25, 2014

day one

i started this post at the beginning of the month.
it is now nearly over.
i'm almost 35.
i just had to exhale after i typed that.

actually, i didn't. i typed that at the beginning month and as my birthday swiftly approaches, it's less shocking but...

i used to think 35 was old.
i used to think i wouldn't live this long.
(but also, now, i think there were a lot of years i wasn't even living.)

i am about to enter my fifth seven year cycle.
and maybe for the first time in my life, i expect great things to come.
i say that in as non-attached a way as possible, which i guess is to say:
great things are to come.

in fact, they're already here.

it dawned on me the other day that when someone asks, "how are you (doing/feeling/etc.)? i no longer shrug and say, "meh" or feel as though it's a loaded question that they don't really want me to answer.

in the past, when things were going well i used to minimize it for fear that it wouldn't last or that i wasn't deserving or that someone would take it away from me.
i used to think others had that much power.
i used to give them that much power.

it was one of those lessons i had to learn and continue to learn.
i'm not even sure i'll never have to take the test again but right now it feels as though i finally passed a class i'd repeatedly failed.

i can now say things are great.
i am great.

and mean it.

there will probably always be days that i wish stuff was different or easier or better...

and i know, almost for a fact, that there will still be days when i am stricken by a grief that feels extra-heavy on my bones. that's sort of the way life works.

it's definitely how i work.
how i feel everything.

but here's what i've learned, what i carry into this next trip around the sun...

just as i can stand firmly
in my fear.
in my loss.
in my head.

i can also stand, confidently
in celebration.
in love.
in truth.

isn't that all we can do?

to live each of our breaths as though they were our last?
to find the joy and pure bliss of this experience and take none of it for granted?

we are here to feel our emotions, ALL OF THEM, but to react and respond from our core, like the spoke of a wheel.


no matter how fast the world is spinning around us.


remember that time i had a living room full of journals?

i had to get up on the couch to capture this 8-ft spread.

reading that blog post again and wow.

evidence that even slow growth is still growth.

after that first phase,i set aside 16 journals and a portable file box of old poetry to go through at a later date.
i had to give each page the time it deserved before i could just toss it.
these were the pages i'd carried around for fifteen, twenty years. lifetimes.

last october, after nearly losing my sight, going through those reserved journals was the goal but i started with my jewelry boxes, little treasures of gemstones in hidden places, my closets, bookshelves, studio...anything to keep me from the hard work

forever girl in circles.
accepted and embraced.
this is how i roll.
aware, almost the whole time, of i how i get in my own way and distract myself.
i'm the best at it.

last week i decided it was time to do this thing.
to step aside and enter the the second, most brutal phase.

i brought out the file box and those 16 journals and sat down in the middle of my studio.

i'd taken three years of poetry classes when i was getting my psych degree.
because i couldn't afford the luxury of therapy.
i wrote.

the other day i threw out my final portfolios.
said good-bye to ten pounds of classroom poetry,
other people's work and their commentary on mine.

for a minute i thought i'd regret it.
i think it's made for some incredibly strange dreams since.
but i don't regret it.

i kept my teenage composition notebook with fleetwood mac lyrics and tragic love letters.
and just one embarrassing childhood diary.

everything is now organized by topic or project and it all fits in a small file box.

a newer one. with the poetry, went the old, broken one. it's black pleather stood as an ironic box of darkness filled with opinions i no longer needed.


today is day one.

no more keeping strange hours or staying up until 4am, because, obviously that means that come 8 the next morn, i am not going to be the best functioning person i can be,  much less a functioning mama.

no more fear of ...dun, dun, dun....a schedule.
keeping track.

it occurred to me the other day that what i feared most was that schedules somehow lead to a lack of creativity or spontaneity, that i would lose touch with the very madness that i derive my best ideas from but then i broke it down...

nothing is never not born from and into chaos, but nothing ever gets done if we're just floating around in chaotic shit all the time. we're not helpless, and no matter how buddhist you are, you have to admit that we are always enacting some sort of control over, or manipulating, at the very least, our experiences.

schedules can help harness the magic, then action can be taken.

i confused this necessary step with rigid schedules that constrict and bind and choke.
the kind that are "mandatory" and often associated with a name tag or uniform.

i am not uniform and so i resisted schedules for years. YEARS. even though, pick up any number of remaining journals of mine and you will see notes that look something like this:

morning: yoga, stretch, journaling/reading, coffee, breakfast, circle time, stories

mid-morning: snack, outside play, lesson books, free play

lunch, clean-up.
art, clean-up.

afternoon: snack, outside play, story time, stretch/music and movement

that was my formula for being an awesome, present, involved homeschooling mama but it left very little time or space for me and what else i have to accomplish (like making art, selling art, bookkeeping job-job, and making more books, yo!!!)

often i would sneak little or large chunks of time for updating the etsy shop or taking photos, painting or writing. i'd stay up late. wake early...or, as of late, wake late more and more and still feel exhausted. i felt scattered and flustered and knew my kids were suffering as much as i was. it wasn't so much that i wasn't giving them proper attention so much as i was inconsistent with it.

yesterday was one of the worst days we've had in a long time

i left the boys with awesome papa and did my favorite thing.
drove around a while, then sat in my car and cried.

before it was time to pick teen up from work, i decided it was time to hit the bookstore, find a book that called to me, and get my head clear. this is my new form of free therapy.

i saw a copy of hands free mama's new book by the same title.
i was a little meh about all the god-talk but it didn't turn me off as much as some reviewers.
it caught me off guard but the fact that i kept reading it means i've grown as a person.

and i know how to take what resonates and leave the rest.

i may have even bought it, save for i'm on a book diet.
plus, what i took from it while i sat there for thirty minutes was just the perspective i needed.
i felt the shift then and there and realized that my pretend schedules never lasted long (sort of like fad diets, yk?) because i tried to fit in all this awesome-hands-on-mom-time without making an actual on-paper schedule for my work/projects/me-time.

i often felt like i was "stealing" or sneaking this time to get things done because i was. sprinkled into our busy days, the inconsistency produced a lot of unnecessary stress.

last night my eight year old and i came up with a plan.

he called it: "gadget-free until three" meaning that we would tend to our homeschooling and housekeeping tasks throughout the day, staying off the electronics, until 3pm, at which point he and his brother could watch TV or play video games and i could work until dinner.

sounds SO simple but our homeschooling rhythm completely falls apart if they kids start playing minecraft after breakfast or i start checking FB, updating my etsy shop, or making work-related phone calls first, and of course, my teen's work schedule varies and i am driving him to and from work at least three days a week.

middlest and i were on the same page, though, and came up with a pretty nifty, flexible schedule.
in an effort to maximize our time and positive energy, we came up with a daily rhythm much like the oft-repeated, infrequently implemented ideal schedule but with time for mom built into the equation.

i even have myself going to bed by midnight at the latest.
this is revolutionary.

we did have a few bumpy spots after lunch, but it was warm out so we went to the park for an hour and while my middlest was itching to play on the computer when we got home, the littlest was gadget free ALL day. he didn't even ask for the ipad once. AND. and. AND?

i was able to work for four hours straight!
my kids didn't fight!

granted, teen and awesome papa were home, but the kids weren't even deferring to either of them to break up conflicts. there just weren't any. littlest only interrupted me a few times and it was toward the end of my scheduled block of time, anyhow.

after day one my four year old said "this was the best day ever" and even though he says that quite often, it wasn't accompanied by one of the many, daily declarations that it was also the worst day ever.

i call that a win. art and writing to happen, not on the whim of my crazy muse, but on a schedule.
which is no longer a bad word in my book.

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