No Technology Weekend

Last week did not end up being the massive overwhelm I was mentally and emotionally preparing myself for. Multiple clients dropped off my schedule leaving me ample time to complete all the documentation I was working on without adding any new documentation to my load. I don’t get paid when I don’t see a client since I am not an hourly employee so I lose out in that respect, all in all I think it created a much needed balance for me though and I was definitely sending my thanks to the Universe.

Because I was expecting this hectic week to happen my husband and I made plans for the weekend that were sure to also offer balance. It was a tech free weekend in our home (with the exception of one hour of TV last night to watch Game of Thrones).

The tech free idea for the weekend actually wasn’t an intentional plan we made, it rose of out necessity more or less.

Saturday we went and picked up our niece and nephew in the morning and brought them to our house for a play date.

We got to my parent’s home where the kids had stayed the night and were greeted by my nephew charging out of the house ready to go, hold on buddy let us say Hi to Mimi before we leave. I could sense that he was in a mood. When I opened the front door I understood why, the house was awake and busy and my nephew gets easily overstimulated.

My niece, Moo, ran to the door, tablet in hand and excitedly told me to come dance with her. She was playing that dancy Justin Timberlake song, I don’t know what it’s called. We jumped around letting our arms fly free while my husband collected the sports equipment that my nephew wanted to bring with him. When we finally got to the car and got everyone strapped in the kids both immediately retreated into their tablets. I hopped in the front seats, leaned back, and took both tablets. Let’s talk.

I told the kids we were going to have 10 minutes of social time then I would give the tablets back for the remainder of the car ride.

They did well, my nephew struggling a bit more than my niece.

When we got home I put the tablets away because the second we walked in the house my nephew asked me if there was a quiet room where he could play on his tablet alone. Um No. We are going to spend time together doing activities and playing games.

This is what he does at his house and when he comes to my parent’s house. I feel like I never see him anymore because he retreats into the tablet. I don’t know if it the fact that he is on summer vacation so he doesn’t have that structure of a daily school schedule or if all the changes taking place in his life are becoming too much (he went from a child with one sibling to a child with three in less than three years plus his family is in a major transition time with getting ready to move out of state). It might also be the age, he is going on 11. It is quite possibly a combination of everything listed and many other factors I have not considered. All I knew is that I was not going to lose him on a day when the weather was beautiful and we had plenty of ways to be together.

We tie-dyed shirts together, then my husband made the kids grilled cheese with milk for lunch, after lunch my husband took my nephew to the park to play all manner of sports while Moo and I painted together in the living room. After painting and sports the kids both played with my husband and Lu in my canvas tent while I cleaned up a bit. Then my husband and my nephew played a game at the kitchen table while I took Moo to the park for a few minutes.

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On the way back to my parent’s house rather than give the kids their tablets for the car ride we played car games from my husband and I’s childhood. The kids had a blast and were both super engaged. I am not knocking tech for kids, this will probably be our last play date with these two before they move out of state though so I really wanted to have them fully, without distractions. It was a great day.

When got to my parent’s place one of the twins, the one I call Banana, was being extra clingy to me. We have never done play dates with the twins because of their age, we started with Moo when she was three and the twins are not quite there. I think Banana would have come though if we let her.

So Banana and I spent sometime together that evening. It began to rain so I picked her up and we went on the back porch where we stuck a hand out past the railing to feel the water on our fingers. Banana looked around the yard as I pointed out and named all the plants that were being watered by the rain.

I was glad to have a little time with each of them on Saturday, even the baby and I had our moment. I have a feeling that may have been my last big day with all of them like this, I am grateful for the memories.

Yesterday my husband and I took care of a few chores as per our usual Sunday routine. We allowed plenty of time for quiet as well. I took two naps which felt a bit overindulgent AND needed. The second one barely counts though because Lu horned in on my napping spot ten minutes in which woke me up.

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At the end of the week my brother-in-law is flying in for a visit so today I am readying our home for company. Tonight I will attend Red Tent and am excited for the connection. It’s funny because this is my second time going, I expected my nerves to be less, that is not the case though. Half of the nervous feeling is just unbridled excitement, the other half is regular old nerves though. It is not easy being new, it is not easy to put yourself out there and show up alone to an event where you know few people well and allow yourself to be truly seen and experience real connection with other women. It is not easy AND it is worth it.

Nelsonian Knowledge

I am alternating between two books right now, both from the little free library near my home. Both Sides Now was my book of choice last night mainly because I accidentally left my other book in the car and I was not in the mood to go retrieve it in my nightgown.

Both Sides Now is an enthralling read, it is the kind of book that makes you lose time because you are so in it, AND it is intensely anxiety producing for me. Last night I could feel the palpitations wanting to start, my levels of panic rising with each mini chapter I would complete.

It is a memoir that details the intimate moments of excruciating loss. Loss on a level that most of us hope and pray never to experience. Loss that we do not want to even recognize can exist because then we have to see a truth no one wants to face: if it could happen to them , to could happen to me.

This morning I woke up thinking about how I do it, the thing we all do. I sit secure in the knowledge that I am going to live to see the end of this day, that everyone I love is going to live to see the end of this day. That my health will be with me for years and years and years to come because I am only 33 and have my whole life ahead of me.

I do know better.

I have worked with individuals and families that had their lives uprooted by a new reality when death and illness came to their doorstep in unexpected ways. I have been of the front lines of a cancer diagnosis, I have been in the fox hole with the families and individuals during certain aspects of treatment, I have co-facilitated caregiver support groups for other terminal illnesses, I have experienced the fallout – sat in the emotional aftermath of loss with family members and loved ones.

I have also experienced much of this first hand in my own life with family and friends.

So I do know better.

I know better because I have sat in the hospital room with my 20 something year old family member who was about to undergo treatment when just a few days before the news came that the cancer was back. I know better because I carry the stories of a close friend who lost all her hair because of the meds she had to take, I know better because time and time again in my young life I have witnessed and experienced my own suffering stemming from this broken illusion of time, and control, and certainty in a future that none of us have ever truly been promised.

Still, I sit in my willfulness ignorance as often as possible because I am not ready, and I am not sure I ever will be ready to face the truth: All we have is now. That is all we ever have. This exact moment. That is it.

This morning I sent my husband to work with a silent prayer on my lips that the Universe will bring him home to me this evening. I prayed for this today and that everyday this will continue to happen until we are old and ready to face our mortality with many happy full years behind us. I said this silent prayer to the Universe all the while secretly knowing that there will never be a time in my life that I will feel as though I have had enough, I will always want more from life no matter my age or experience.

So I will go on making plans, and planting gardens, and dreaming dreams of things to come. I will look to the future with hope and certainty AND I will be thankful right now, this very moment, for all that I have. Love, connection, the privilege of knowing what it feels like to be wrapped in my husband’s arms, every experience I have had in this life of mine because none of it was promised, not one day, not one minute. To argue with my husband is a privilege that I take for granted while another person might be willing to give up everything to argue with a loved again. When we both return home tonight I will remember this and I will  be grateful.

Sitting with this uncomfortable reality, allowing myself to set down my willful ignorance about life’s harsh truths, makes it so clear just how truly entitled we all are every single day. One of life’s fundamental truths is that nothing is ever promised yet we walk around every moment of every day so sure of the next.

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You’re Not Having a Good Day

That is what my husband said to me after I experienced my 3rd major calamity of the day. I agreed. While I was having a rough time my clumsy alter ego, Calamity Jill, was really living it up!

It all started this afternoon.

I drove across town, roughly 35 minutes, to meet with a new family I will be working with and unfortunately the appointment did not take place. I got stood up. No big deal, sometimes wires get crossed. I left a voicemail after waiting outside their home for a bit and once they get back to me I will reschedule. Since my schedule was suddenly open I decided to pay some family a visit who happened to live nearby.

When getting out of my car at my family’s home I turned funny and managed to spill my entire La Croix into my play therapy bag of toys and books. Good Grief!

I went inside with my play therapy bag and spent time catching up with family while I cleaned out and Lysol wiped the contents.

No big deal, these things happen (especially to me).

The real mess took place once I got home.

I let Lu out, brought her back in and started working on some documentation for work. About an hour later I was done and started picking up around the house. I went into the office briefly to grab a canvas and to put away some work documents and went on about my business for the next hour until my husband arrived home.

Upon his arrival he called out for the dog which struck me as weird because she ALWAYS meets him at the door. Maybe she is sleeping in the bedroom and didn’t hear him? We both started calling for her: nothing. My husband asked me if I accidentally left her outback. I panicked! Oh God I hope not! It had rained- hard- in the last hour since I saw Lu, there is no way I could have left her out in the rain.  I opened the backdoor, desperately trying to temper my rising anxiety and terror, and starting whistling and calling for her: nothing. In the background I heard  my husband still calling for her in the house. The terror was really starting to grow. Did she get outside? Is she running the street with no collar and no microchip? Is she dead in a gutter? Where is my baby?

Just as I was reaching the point of hysteria she came bounding around the corner and jumped up to kiss me hello. Oh dear God Lucy where were you???

My husband came around the corner and said I needed to get a take a look in the office. This is what I found:

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I didn’t even see her follow me in when I had been in the office an hour earlier. Luckily some ripped up paper and a destroyed pine cone was of little significance compared to what she could have gotten into while accidentally locked in the office during a thunder storm for an hour. My poor baby. This is what anxiety looks like. I felt like the worst mother on earth. I can only imagine the panic and abandonment she was feeling. I got on her level and we cuddled for a few minutes. Then I declared the rest of the night The Night of Lucy! to make it up to her (or at least try).

The night of Lucy started with a nice big puppy dinner. Then she and I went for a walk at the park just the two of us where we chased frogs and played in mud puddles. When we got home I carried her into the bathroom and placed her in the tub to wash her muddy feet. After her foot bath she got a treat AND a new toy. My husband and I have a bag of toys that we bought on sale a while back and there are tucked away for Christmas. A screw up like today definitely warranted a early Christmas present.

Lu was thrilled. She and I played chase and fetch and then.. catastrophe. I was ramping up to throw her new toy down the hall for her to chase after and she got a bit to excited. This resulted in Lu jumping on my husband who was minding his own business eating shrimp ceviche on the couch. Lu’s foot landed right in his bowl of fish and vegetables dumping the whole thing into his lap before she ran off down the hall to get her toy.

My husband just sat there in his fish staring at me. He said nothing. He didn’t need to, his face said it all. I quickly saved him from the soggy fish blanket (that thankfully saved him from fish REALLY landing in his lap), got him a new throw, and cleaned up the rest of the mess. He just looked at me, laughed, and said You are not having a good day.

No kidding. I can’t get anything right today.

Suddenly Fuel lyrics flashed across my brain:

Spilled her coffee, broke a shoe lace. She smeared the lipstick on her face. Slammed the door and said I’m sorry I had a bad day again.

Some days that song is my anthem.

Later I sat in my husband’s lap, tears rolling down my cheeks; do you think she loves me even when I get it wrong?

Yes.

Do you love me even when I get it wrong?

Yes.

I am going to get it wrong. I am going to fail. I am still loveable.

While writing this post and sitting in my shame and embarrassment even while trying to minimize these feelings by finding the humor in the situation (a favorite defense mechanism of mine), I thought of Virginia Woolf. More specifically I thought of what Virginia Woolf said about women who tell the truth:

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life.

I am a clumsy, forgetful, sometimes all together absent minded woman. I am woman who gets it wrong and sometimes hurts the ones she loves most in the world. I fail and I get it wrong and experience excruciating shame as a result from time to time. AND I stand in these truths and love myself, even when I feel so incredibly unlovable. This is my power. This is my strength. Love. My ability to stand in my truth and love myself there.

 

And Then She Quoted Joni Mitchell

After dinner tonight my husband and I took Lu for a walk. The weather was unseasonably cool with a steady breeze, I could have walked for miles next to him in weather like this.

He mentioned a tropical depression the news people were talking about, I shrugged and put my hand in his while we walked on. I did not need a reason for the weather, only to be grateful and enjoy it.

We took a detour from one of our traditional routes to stop by The Little Free Library a few blocks over. There are two Little Free Libraries near a home, both just a few blocks over from each other. This is a blessing for sure for a constant reader such as myself because sometimes I need something to hold me over until I can get to the bookstore.

This one is not usually as well stocked as the other but I checked the other over the weekend and found nothing of interest. I opened the wood door with the glass porthole window and started picking up books to quickly read the synopsis on the back. Still I was not feeling struck by anything. Feeling pressure to pick something because I knew if I didn’t I would have nothing to read tonight I landed on Both Sides Now by Nancy Sharp.

I chose it because of the title and the cover, no other reason. I didn’t know what the book was about but Both Sides Now sounds like a book that is going to embrace the AND in life, sign me up. I was drawn to the cover because it felt honest. It is black with gray running through and a small muted sun up in one corner. To me this signified the dark, the light, and the gray where they meet and life happens. I liked that the majority of the cover was black and gray, they sun is small, it does not feel like it is trying to force anything: ignore your darkness and be happy! This title, this cover, they felt real, like whoever wrote this book knows something. They get it.

Turns out the book is a memoir and one of the over arching themes of this woman’s story is loss. So far I have only read the author’s note and already a lot is coming up for me. She is discussing loss, so far, in a way many people can relate to; losing a loved one. Many of the losses in my life look different than that, her language is still relevant for me though.

Two pieces that stood out already are:

Seeing takes time. We have to be patient to draw clarity from the fog.

The question of Why? ultimately becomes What Next? because in order to live and love again you determine where to place yourself in this altered world.

I really really get what she is saying here.

My picking this book felt random, now I am not so sure. I feel like this woman is bringing me my work. And if all of this was not enough to convince me, at the end of the author’s note she quoted Joni Mitchell: Well something’s lost, but something’s gained.

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Opening My Arms

i love you moo

Something, a theme, that has been coming up for at least 6 months now in my writing, my meditation, and my personal healing work is this idea of needing to set some things down so my arms are free to receive what I am really meant to be holding.

One example that I am willing to share in regards to this coming up in my writing is this piece I wrote not too long ago. It was my first true reflection on this idea.

This came up again for me in a big way this week.

I found out that my brother’s family is moving out of state in the near future. My brother is a recent graduate as well and his post-grad job is taking him north. It is the exact job he wanted so I am elated for his good fortune AND I am heart broken.

I am not going to beat around this bush one bit. I will miss my brother’s entire family, I will miss all of my nieces and nephews, AND I know I am going to feel as though my insides are being ripped out when my oldest niece leaves. Moo is one of my all-time best buddies. She is my bosom friend, my kindred spirit. I know this little soul was put on this earth so I could be her auntie and she could be my niece. I am devastated.

I have been taking it in stride. I am holding it together because I think a piece of me is a little embarrassed to show just how heart broken I feel. I will give myself the time I need to experience my pain, I will hold this and love this piece of myself well.

For right now what I am comfortable exploring is the fact that I am happy for my family. There is an AND of course. It is both devastation AND happiness, for now I am discussing one, this does not mean I am ignoring all of the other feelings coming up – all parts are welcome and I will take my time to be with each of them.

So my happiness is this: my family has trouble with boundaries and codependency and I think this will allow everyone to stand on their own for a while and each individual family unit figure out who they are and what works for them without pressure from other members of the family to do or be anything.

My husband and I have been setting boundaries for years, this will allow my brother’s family and my parents to catch up. My brother brought this up himself as a benefit to this move.

Here is what I am sitting with right now for myself: relating back to this idea of setting somethings down so my arms are open to receive. Maybe at this moment in my life I am meant to set Moo down so my arms are open to receive my next big relationship, that with my own children. Moo and her big brother have been my babies since they were born, especially Moo. I will love Moo no less and miss her no less AND I will be open to receiving.

My husband and I are not quite ready, we will know when the time is right, and when that time comes I believe my arms will open.

The Universe has divine timing, I know this to be true. I am not trying to spiritual bypass this situation, I am open to all of the feelings that come up, AND I can see the Universe at work here.

I Am My Father’s Daughter

Me and Dad

I have his hammer toes. One, two, a toe in the middle of each foot. Crooked over, a knuckle reminiscent of possible ape ancestors. Human evolution skipped my feet. I have Dad to thank for that.

Broken skin, forgetting my phone in the refrigerator for the second time this week, forgot to lock the back door. Absent minded professor, I walk around inside my own head only half conscious of the outside world. Just like Dad I am a walking bruise of forgetfulness and day dreams.

A yes man who bends corners and break rules. He is a walking paradox of eager to please and unwilling to conform. Just like my father I ruffle feathers and attempt to smooth them down all at the same time. We do not follow blindly – we respectfully ask questions.

The only two in our family who could whistle through our gaps growing up. I have my father’s teeth. The dentist told me I had a big mouth when explaining that even with my gaps there was still room for my wisdom teeth to grow in without having to be removed; I said thanks, I get it from my Dad.

Dennis the Menace and Calamity Jill our nicknames say it all. Trouble makers, tricksters, telling a joke, plotting a scheme. I am my father’s daughter.

Today driving home from a client session I realized again just how much I am my father’s daughter. For 20 years he worked from his car, going out to client’s homes to perform his job as a public servant. He enjoyed the freedom and resisted being shackled to a desk 9-5. I am my father’s daughter, paving my own way, enjoying the freedom, bucking against the traditional 9-5.

There is no getting around it. I am the apple, he is the tree. I am my father’s daughter.

 

 

 

Playing Pretend

Last night at my parents house my husband and I were playing pretend with my 7 year old niece, Moo. We were all superheros and we were working on a plan to hoodwink Robin (of Batman and Robin) because he had pranked Batman (played by Moo) by painting the Batcar Pink. Moo made me Wonder Woman and my husband Beer Man. When we asked who Beer Man was she said the guy who gets everyone beer. I almost cried laughing. Neither of us could figure out where she came up with this as my husband rarely drinks and her parents do not drink AT ALL, beer should not really be on her radar. Then when she started coming up with more villains we figured it out..

She named one villain The Evil Mimosa. What?!

We saw her with one of my mom’s Home and Garden magazines. She was flipping through the magazine and whatever page she landed on that is how she was coming up with names. She had landed on a page with recipes for craft cocktails and home brewed beer. Suddenly everything made sense, my husband and I thought it was pretty funny.

We all dressed up to get into character. I took the cotton scarf I was wearing off and tied it over my shoulders as a cape and then put on a pink fuzzy hat I found in the dress up box. Moo found a black magicians cape that was perfect for batman, then my husband tied a scarf as a cape as well along with a pink fuzzy winter scarf thrown over his shoulders.

So Batman, Wonder Woman, Beer Man, and Bat Dog (played by Lucy) were hatching a plan to bamboozle The Evil Mimosa and Robin at their secret hideout AKA the dog bed next to the fire place in the living room.

The big plan was that we were going to adopt all the animals at the zoo/pound and out them on Robin and The Evil Mimosa’s doorstep so when they try to leave their hideout they can’t.

Moo and I rounded up all the stuffed animals in the kid’s playroom at my parents house, snuck into the living room on our hands and knees James Bond Style – Lu trotting behind us trying to figure out our game-, and stacked them up in the dog’s bed. Their dog was befuddled.

A few minutes later I saw my husband, Moo, and Lucy dashing across the house, my husband swinging the ends of his pink scarf like nunchucks. They must have been in a battle with Robin or The Evil Mimosa. In that moment I was so freaking in love with him I could have popped.

Playing pretend never stopped being fun; my husband is grounded and realistic AND he totally gets it. I love him so hard.

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