Short Lived

Weeks ago something came to me; a vision of sorts. The message was clear: change is coming. I did not know what change was coming, now I do.

I started this writing space in May, just a few months ago, and now I know it is time to move on. When this clarity came to me I met it with some hesitation. I am just getting started. This is just starting to feel like home. I don’t feel like starting over.

I know with certainty stepping out of this space and into the next is what I am meant to do though. Whatever comes next I guess this space is not meant to hold it so it is time to put this writing space down.

My last blog held space for me for five years, next to that three months seems so small. I know better. I did big things here and am grateful to this space for being the vessel.

When I ended my last blog I shared the information for this blog in my last post so anyone who wanted to continue with me knew where to find me. I know I am not meant to do that this time.

I am going to walk forward on my own and shine my light knowing that if we are meant to walk with each other moving forward we will find one another. Thank you for your support. Thank you for seeing me.

With Gratitude,

Jillian
The woman adding

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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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Making Time for Connection

Yesterday I had a therapist friend over for BYOL (bring your own lunch). She hosted me a month or so ago at her home and I was excited to return the kindness. We ate our lunches in the sunroom at the dining room table and talked for hours. It was quality time spent in connection and I am glad both of our schedules allowed for it.

Mondays ha become my outside connection day for me. I feel like I have reclaimed Mondays. Monday gets such a bad wrap because for most it is the beginning of the work week, it is nice to embrace this day of the week again.

I got up early yesterday morning to wash tidy up a bit to be ready to receive my guest. While taking the recycles outside to the bin I was elated to discover our composter had been delivered! I picked it up and moved it to the backyard and brought of all my veggie scraps out for my first deposit.

I am very excited about this new approach to disposing waste and how it may help nurture a future garden. The possibilities are endless.

While Mondays have become outside connection day, Tuesdays are inside connection day. Tuesdays and Sundays are the two days I protect and keep for myself. Sundays are me and my husbands day together, and Tuesdays are my self-care day. I may eventually see clients on Saturdays and Mondays once my caseload builds, for now I have been fortunate that all of my clients prefer Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays leaving me with the rest of the week.

So today I woke up at my usual time, had some tea, followed up on a few unanswered text messages, and then headed out to run errands. I needed to fill my gas tank to be ready for all the driving I will be doing this week. I have two new clients this week and they are in the neighboring county so I will be in the car a good bit.

After the gas station I headed to the grocery for more veggies and a few limes so I can make ceviche. The grocery did not have the aloe juice I was looking for so I decided to go a few miles further and visit what I call the fancy grocery. It is the nice grocery with wood floors and a BIG produce section as well as a large tea selection and other high end items our regular grocery does not carry.

I found my aloe juice and I found a jasmine green tea that looked promising. It is 23.00 less expensive than the loose leaf jasmine tea at the tea shop so I thought I would give it a try. It is a winner! It is every bit as good as the last two jasmine teas I have tried. Every time I lift my tea cup to my lips I inhale the intoxicating smell of jasmine. It is smooth, unlike the last one I bought from our regular grocery that turned out to be rather bitter. I am thrilled. This is definitely one of my favorite teas in my tea cabinet presently.

When I got home I roasted some brussel sprouts and asparagus to go in the veggie wrap I will be having for lunch. I plan to paint my nails and watch a movie today, while completing a few chores around the home. And although I do not typically do anything work related on Tuesdays I have some documentation due in the middle of the month that I think I would like to get a head start on so I will squeeze that in this afternoon.

Tomorrow starts my work week and hopefully the time I am providing for outside and inside connection this week I will feel refreshed and ready to hold space for my clients.

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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Candida

I am still recovering from my junk food bender a few weeks ago. For years food has been my numbing tool of choice. I had a rather extended relationship with shopping, a brief fling with different drugs, another extended relationship with social media/the internet.. The one constant has been food though. Problematic relationships with other numbing tools may come and go but food, food is always there, riding shot gun, just waiting for the cue from me to step in and provide the void needed to consume whatever overwhelm I do not want to feel.

This is not one of my prettier truths. A truth it is though, and this truth belongs to me. To love myself here I have to first own it, and with reluctance and shame I do.

For the moment food and I are okay again and our relationship is balanced; I am not trying to control food and food is not stepping in to numb/control me. That balance is about to experience another shift.

As a result of the two week long binge I went on last month my gut is now completely out of whack.

Last year my allergies became so intolerable I finally broke down and went to a specialist. I have had allergy issues since I was at the end of high school, in recent years it has been hard to manage. The year I got married it was so bad I thought there was a chance I would not be able to wear make-up on my wedding day due to my constantly itchy watery eyes.

So I saw the allergist, did the scratch test and some blood work, and discovered the underlying issue was candida overgrowth in my gut. The solution: 1 year of allergy shots once a week (no thanks!) or 3 months on the candida diet to rebalance my gut. I chose the latter.

The candida diet sucked. It felt super complicated, I went through terrible withdrawals, my mood was over all over the place. It was not fun AND it absolutely did the trick.

My allergies cleared up, my symptoms of IBS (that I would never talk about out of embarrassment) went away, my mood improved, and I felt more alert/clear headed.

I went off the diet and started reintroducing certain foods to my diet while others I have given up permanently because of the way they make me feel. Mushrooms for example, I have a major mold allergy – mushrooms are no good for me.

In the last few weeks I have seen the signs that my candida issue is an issue again. The texture of my nails, my mood, bloat, craving certain foods that I know cause a reaction/overgrowth issue, and most of all severe allergy symptoms even with my meds.

So I am restarting my efforts to bring down the overgrowth and restore my gut to healthy functioning. I am not hitting the issue full force like I did last time. This time I am doing it for about a month, compared to 3 months last time. I am not going to be completely rigid about following “the rules”, I am just going to be mindful about avoiding foods that feed the candida in my gut.

When I was spiraling last month I allowed myself to have my moment with food because I knew I could stop. I knew I was struggling AND I knew I would not continue to struggle. I believe that I will get to a point where I can experience overwhelm, and struggle, and pain AND not feel the need to rely on numbing to get me through. I am not there yet and that is okay. I can see my progress. I am aware of my emotions, I am aware of my numbing, AND I am making a conscience effort to avoid judgment for how I take care of myself.

I am still figuring this out and these are darker parts of myself that I am working with. What is important is that I am showing up and trying to work with them. Rather than shutting down in my shame and judging myself for this numbing behavior, I am showing up in compassion and curiosity and trying to get know myself better here so I can love myself well in this space.

At the end of the day eating well or not eating well is not the thing that will make me feel better or worse. I cannot cure this with kale the same way I cannot cure it with chocolate. It is not about the food, it is about me and my relationship with myself. It is about showing up for the piece of me that is suffering instead of abandoning her in her pain. Loving myself well is the only cure to what ails me, that is my truth. Nothing from the outside can make this feel better; whether that be love/validation from another person, food of any kind, medication, my career, having children, my material possessions. That is just not how it works. It is inside work.

So I will mend the parts of my body that need mending, once again find my balance, and travel into that dark emotional space of pain to find whoever is hiding there needing to be seen and loved. So often self-love is a rescue mission, and today I am here to do that work.

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I Will Never Cut Another Dress

That’s a good look.

I lifted my head and peered out at my husband from behind the scarf that was covering the majority of my face.

Oh yeah, think I should leave it like this?

Oh definitely.

We both laughed as I continued to tie my head scarf and put my glasses back on.

My husband and I have a rule in our relationship: no body policing.

That means I am allowed to be in my body however feels comfortable without worry of non-acceptance and so is he. This is one area in our relationship where acceptance is not conditional.

So I can shave or not, wear make up or not, do my hair or put on a hat or scarf, dress however I feel etc etc.
He can shave or not, get a haircut or not, dress however he feels etc etc.

This is an important rule to each of us in our relationship because we have both been in relationships where we did not feel this freedom and we agreed that not having this freedom makes for an unhealthy relationship. We have to belong to ourselves first and one of that fastest ways to autonomy is through feeling full ownership of one’s body.

That is not to say that we never say anything about one another’s body/appearance. When my husband’s finger nails start to get long he sometimes scratches me on accident, I let him know so either:

A. He can choose to trim his nails OR
B. He is more mindful when embracing me.

Me saying something about his finger nails does not mean he has to cut them, he can make that choice, I am allowed to set a boundary stating: Hey that hurts please be careful how you touch me when your nails are that length.

This morning as I got ready and was thinking about this aspect of our relationship and silently counting my gratitude for it I thought of the times in my life when I did not feel in control of my body/appearance and acceptance was conditional on meeting the expectations of someone else.

As children we experience this all the time. For me it was my mother doing my hair the way she wanted it done while I cried under her comb that was piercing my scalp.

I started shaving my legs in 5th grade because two of the boys in class made fun of the hair on my legs. I had never given it any thought until suddenly I was made to feel ashamed for something my body does naturally.

As a teen it was all about trying to fit in order to stay invisible and survive. My face was marked with noticeable scarring after my car accident freshman year so I was already getting some harsh unwanted attention, I did my best not to stick out by way of appearance.

And in my twenties when my identity was usually wrapped up in whoever I was dating I followed their lead. My boyfriend said he likes brunettes better than blondes so for the first time in my life I dyed my hair and played the role of brunette for a few years.

There is one instance that always come to mind first when I think of why this (whole body ownership/autonomy) is so important to me: my ex and the dress.

I have a few great loves when it comes to dresses over the years. In high school I had this denim jumper dress that I loved so much I have it saved in a box to hopefully give to my one day daughter. In my twenties it was the Joni Mitchell dress, so named by my then boyfriend. Now it is my long blue wrap dress.

These dresses were my go-to dresses during these periods of my life because they all possessed the same magic: no matter how I was feeling before putting the dress on, the second I was wearing it I felt beautiful and grounded and myself.

I remember when I bought the Joni Mitchell dress, I got home and put it on to go out with my boyfriend that night. I felt invincible, like the most luminous, stunning version of myself. I got to his house, walked in surrounded by the energetic light I was feeling, and was immediately verbally shit on.

What are you wearing? You look ridiculous. You look like a hippy. You look like Joni Mitchell (which was totally meant as a dig – but she is fucking fabulous so jokes on him)Did you bring a change of clothes? I hate that dress. Never wear that around me again.

Honestly I loved it so much that as hurt as I was in that moment I still felt beautiful. And this was during a very insecure time in my existence, so for me to be able to rebound so easily from this verbal attack when my feelings about myself were completely wrapped up in how others feel about me.. that just further speaks to the power of this dress.

I was faced with a dilemma though. My boyfriend hates the dress and never wants to be seen with me wearing it again and I love the dress and never want to take it off. I was desperate to find a way to make this work. I was desperate. Those three words pretty much sum me up back then.

Acting on this feeling of desperation I did something that I immediately regretted, I cut the dress. The dress was long, white, and flowy with explosions of color splashed all over. It looked like art on a blank canvas. When I cut it all the magic was gone. I was Delilah cutting Samson’s hair. It was awful.

My boyfriend loved it. He thought I looked amazing. I suddenly realized just how much that does not matter. I did not like it and every time I saw myself in it all I could think was how I ruined this amazing piece of art. I think what I was truly feeling but was not ready to see was how I had once again abandoned myself. No amount of outside love and validation will fill the void created when we abandon ourselves.

I kept the dress for a very short period after the alteration before gifting it to a friend with the condition that I never have to see her wear it, ironically enough. I did not want the reminder.

Clearly that relationship did not pan out and I had time to myself before meeting my husband. That time was spent getting to know who I am outside of other people, that time is when I took myself back to my foundation and started rebuilding. My husband has only ever known me as a builder, as a woman under construction, as a being of growth and transformation.

Certain boundaries were set very early on in our relationship to ensure we would always belong to ourselves first:

No body policing.
Our books will have their own bookshelves.
Time apart is every bit as important as time together.

More boundaries were added as the years went on and adjustments are made as needed. One of the underlying messages in our relationship being: freedom to be exactly who we are and that be enough. And with that freedom I hold this truth sacred: Never in my life will I cut another dress.

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