Tag Archives: writing

It Takes a Village

I had the joy of talking with my friend Bri Luginbill today for her Compassionately Yours podcast, which focuses on self love, compassion and body image. When she first reached out to me to be on the podcast, my initial response was a little hesitant.

Why in the world would she want me to talk about body image self compassion. So many times I’m hard on myself and feel at my weakest — mentally and physically. I am a work in progress. 

But I decided to do it — to share my weaknesses, my struggles, as well as the things I’ve learned about being hard on ourselves and giving ourselves the same grace we’d give to others.

I think that’s one of the things that’s hardest for me — showing myself the same flexibility, compassion and grace that I give to other people. I feel like all the advice I’d offer someone else about giving themselves room to be human is advice I should really give myself in the mirror every single day.

Another bit of advice I need someone to send back to me is that I need to learn to let people in. Ask one of my closest friends, and she’ll tell you that it’s hard to get me to open up about certain things — and she’s known me for almost 15 years. This fact may be hard to believe since I share so much of myself on this blog, but I promise you there is a lot beneath the surface. I hold some of my stuff close.

And talking with Bri during the podcast and after, it made me think a bit. It helped me realize something that’s not all that shocking or surprising: we need our “people.” People who get “it” and who get us. Whether it’s through shared experiences or shared history, we need people around us. I need people in my village, even if I’m more comfortable spending my free time in a quiet corner with my nose in a book.

As I sit writing this post while Dorothy is in ballet class, I’m feeling contemplative and thinking about ways to build my village, to build my family’s village. Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ve been known to look at the wall for a bit while the thoughts find their way to my fingertips. When I looked up a bit ago, I saw a picture that makes me think the universe is trying to tell me something.

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Isn’t that always the way with the universe?

Bri and I talked about so much during the podcast and after that has made me think — and rethink. It’s so nice chatting with another mom who’s going through many of the same things I am and who knows my story.

I won’t go into detail about what else Bri and I talked about — because I want to save that for you to hear when the podcast airs. But I will say this: after the podcast, I kept thinking about all sorts of additional things I wanted to share. That means I’ll have to share those thoughts in a post after the podcast comes out — a sort of addendum, I suppose. Stay tuned.

And, in the meantime, I urge you to check out what Bri’s doing. It’s pretty great.

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Oh, to be a river

Last weekend I went on a mini retreat with one of my oldest — and dearest — friends while Mr. B stayed home with the kids for an adventure only two toddlers can provide. Saturday morning my friend and I packed our computers, books, music and wine and spent a glorious 24 hours in the company of a river at a small cabin in the heart of The Mitten.

Chippewa River View

It was quiet and peaceful and everything my soul had been needing for some time. I have talked before about how bad I am at making time for myself, but I’m trying to do better. I recognized my need to get away and have a night to myself to focus on things I enjoy doing: reading, writing, thinking, dreaming and planning. And what better place for this annoyingly stereotypical Pisces to do that than by the water.

My goal for the retreat was to just focus on things I enjoy that fill my soul. I read two novels, wrote a blog post and spent a lot of time sketching out my dreams for my future — for my family’s future. And, I spent some time thinking about rivers, up to my ankles in the flowing water.

Feet in the river

There’s so much I love about rivers. The peace of the smooth, flowing water. The whispery sounds as wind slides through the trees on the shore and the water snakes past. The chirping birds and splashing fish. The waving grasses and plants on the banks. The coolness of the water on my unsteady feet as the sand and rocks massage my achy arches.

But there’s so much more to rivers than all their beauty and peace, though. And I wonder: is it possible to love and fear and envy rivers all at the same time?

Rivers — even more than bodies of water — scare me. I’m never so intrigued and nervous as I am in the spring when the rivers swell, flooding roads and homes as they wash away what remains of our cold, Michigan winters. And those who aren’t careful very easily could get swept along with the river. Rushing spring river waters carry with them danger for the people and property that get in their way.

But, oh the way they flow — not taking no for an answer, cutting new paths with a fierce stubbornness and conviction only a river can know. There’s a special kind of patience in a river, too, knowing their path won’t be cut immediately. If there’s something in their way, they push through it. It might take years, or decades, or eons, but the river holds firm in its goal. Some of the most beautiful landscapes in this world were cut by a river — earth never the same after a river’s run through it.

There are days I wish I could be more like a river — to have that peace and patience with a fierce streak of determination running through me. Perhaps that should be my goal — perhaps I should focus on finding peace with my path while knowing it’s within my power to cut a new one as I go. Because it is, after all, my path. It is my story.

A view of the river

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My Self — Myself

Mr. B and I were talking last night after Little Miss and Mister Mister went to sleep. We don’t spend a lot of time talking talking. I mean, we talk, but we don’t talk like we used to — you know, before kids, when we used to have time to sit and discuss the big things like dreams and wishes and goals and … well … life.

So, last night we did that. And it was nice. We talked about our life and the chapter we’re in right now and how life is with two (three) kids. And it was a great conversation that ended with some tears, as B.I.G. conversations sometimes do. (My tears, of course, it’s always my tears.)

They weren’t sad tears. They weren’t happy tears. They weren’t mad tears. They were … contemplative … tears, I suppose.

Because as we were talking, I shared with Mr. B how hard things are some days. It is hard balancing it all: work, family, friends, “self-care,” home, responsibilities. Mostly, it’s hard because I feel like I haven’t been myself since before I was pregnant with Penelope Joy.

I really, truly love the chapter of our story we’re living right now. But, if you think about it, I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding since January of 2013. There was a 3-month break between Penelope Joy’s death and when I got pregnant with Dottie Lou. But that was filled with fresh, terrible grief. And now, some days I’m left feeling like my body, myself, has not really been my own for four-and-a-half years.

Now, please don’t get me wrong: I love being a mom (way more than I thought I could). I love being a wife. I love every choice and sacrifice I’ve made that has brought me to where I am right now. I look back with no regrets, and I look forward with no doubts. But, man, this chapter can be hard.

Sitting here, staring at the screen and listening to myself type, I don’t really have a solution — or know if I really need a “solution.” I don’t have any deep thoughts about it. Actually, I don’t really know the point of this post, other than both kids are sleeping and I haven’t really made time to write for a really long time. And, for me, writing is one of the first steps to feeling like myself again — to feeling like I belong to me.

Now, please enjoy this picture of my family or, as Dottie Lou says, “all the silly monkeys.”

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On Assignment

Timehop tells me it’s been eight years this year since I graduated from my master’s program. That means it’s been eight years since I’ve had homework.

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And, yet, here I sit: on assignment.

I’m writing this because my therapist told me to. Well, he didn’t specifically say what to write. And he didn’t tell me to write a blog post. He simply said, “write.”

“I don’t care what you write. Just take an hour, by yourself, and write. It might be hard, and you might not write anything. But you need to get back into it.” 

So, at 11 a.m. today, Mr. B — my ever-supportive (sometimes annoyingly so) husband — kicked me out of the house and told me not to come back until I had an uninterrupted hour of time. And, apparently, he wasn’t willing to include drive-time in that hour, either.

My first session with J was on Monday. I’ve done therapy before — twice, actually — for a couple of different seasons in my life. But it was never anything that I thought was particularly life-changing. And it never lasted. After just one session with J, I think I know the reason: I hadn’t met the right therapist yet.

After just an hour with J, he’s pretty well figured me out — well, at least figured out how my mind operates and how I need to do things. At the end of the get-to-know-you, why-did-you-call-me session, he asked me what I would need to have accomplished at the end of our time together (whether it’s two months or six months or a year …) to know it’s been a success. Together we set three very measurable, very realistic goals.

And from those goals came my weekly “homework” assignments. This week’s? Make time for myself to write.

It’s not that I don’t want to write. I actually really, really do. And I miss snuggling up with my computer, the romantic glow of the screen keeping me company while I drink green tea and type whatever words happen to be at the top of my mind that morning … or noon … or night. It’s just that I’ve been struggling to make it a priority.

You guys are probably pretty sick of all of my blog posts about trying to make time for myself, about filling my cup before I can fill the cups of others. But it’s all I’ve got right now. This is the season I’m in. And as I sit here writing, listening to the buzz of the coffee shop around me, I’m beginning to think I know why it’s so hard for me — or at least part of the reason.

I don’t want to miss a thing with Dottie Lou. Not a single thing. No mom does; no dad does. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the world for working parents — whether they have to work or they choose to work, or both. For me, I think there’s even more to it than that.

I’m still carrying with me the grief of all of the experiences we missed with Penelope Joy, and the fear of missing out on one of Dottie’s milestones keeps me as close to her as possible whenever it’s in my control. There are days I still cry when I drop her off at daycare — even though I know she’s loved and welcomed as one of their own children. There are nights I cry to Mr. B because I miss Dottie so much during the day.

While Dottie goes in and out of stages of separation anxiety — when all she wants is me — I’m experiencing separation anxiety of my own. It’s hard enough to leave her during the day while I work, but to take extra time alone in the evenings and on the weekend is really difficult. And the thought of leaving her overnight causes me pretty bad anxiety — even if I want to go on the trip. Because every time I think about the possibility of missing something with Dottie, the wounds of Penelope Joy’s loss feel so fresh.

As J and I settle in to our relationship, I’m certain we’ll be working on these — and so many other — issues associated with Penelope Joy’s and my dad’s deaths. The grief? It will always be there. Because that’s how grief works — it’s a constant (sometimes gentle, sometimes not) reminder that we have loved; that we have lost. But I need to find ways to deal with Grief’s friends, Anxiety and Fear.

Writing helps.

catharsis

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I Write What I Want

If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ve probably realized that my life is full of things that inspire me to write — everything from family and pets to Alzheimer’s disease and Penelope Joy and running to marriage. And, if you haven’t been following along for long, welcome to the light. This is a blog of randamity. And it sometimes makes it hard to … well … “Blog” (with a capital “B”).

"I'm gonna grab the computer and take my pants off, it's time to write."

You see, I love to write. It is my outlet. It is my therapy. It is my happy place. And that’s probably why I’ll never make any money from this blog. Because:

  • I write what I want to write. You can’t really place me in a “blogging category.” This isn’t humor or fitness. It isn’t poetry or creative writing. It certainly isn’t a craft or recipe blog. And I am most definitely not a “mommy blogger.”
  • I write when I want to write. I only write when I have something to say and when I’m feeling creatively inspired. That means I may post at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, 6 p.m. on a Sunday or 10:30 p.m. on a Friday. Sure, I could schedule my posts — and sometimes I do. But, for the most part, I’m all about instant gratification. Basically, this is how it works: The mood strikes; I write; I post it; I move on. I tend not to pay attention to the research — at least for this personal blog — that tells me when most people are reading (3 p.m. on Wednesdays, for example). And I tend not to write just so I have something to post for fear of people forgetting about me and my blog.
  • I write for me. And only me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so very happy to have people who want to read what I write. But, I won’t let advertising “categories” define what this blog is, who this writer is or who my readers are.

So, to sum up: if you’re looking for a humor, mommy, recipe, craft, fitness, poetry, DIY or other niche blog, you won’t find it here. What you will find? Pure, unedited honesty. Respect for life and the (sometimes heart-breaking) lessons we learn along the way. Mostly, though, you’ll find life. Yeah, that’s what this is. It is a life blog. With real-life stories — about the good, the bad and the ugly.

And, love, you will find love.

Pets helping me write

Every writer needs her support staff.

Edit: After Mr. B read this blog post, we had the sweetest conversation. And I just have to share it — because it’s just further evidence how waiting to find the “right piece” makes for a beautiful, frame-worthy puzzle.

Mr. B: I like your life blog.
Me: Yeah?
Mr. B: I like being a part of it.
Me: My life or my blog?
Mr. B: A little of both.

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