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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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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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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Counting Gratitude

I am not ready to do any deep writing. I am still processing quite a bit on my own. I do feel the need to express my gratitude though so I will take a little time and space for that.

I am grateful for my job. I am grateful that today when I developed a migraine I did not have to “come home from work” cutting my day short, I got to listen to and honor my body by taking the break I needed. Once I felt rested and ready I picked up where I left off from the comfort of a cold, quiet, dark room.

I am grateful for the little family my husband and I have created. This morning laying in bed together we expressed our love for one another in an authentic way where all parts of ourselves are being shown love from one another. You are messy and you fart in bed AND I love you. I love your messy and your smelly as much as I love your clean and pretty. The message here is so important: messy AND smelly AND clean AND pretty are all loved and welcome in this relationship.

I am grateful for the rest of this little family of ours, Lu. I am grateful to look over and see her lying next to me while I work.

I am grateful for this period of time in my life. This time I am being given is priceless to me. Not having to worry if I am leaving Lu in the crate too long, having time to work AND do a load of laundry, time to take a break and a nap as needed.. The work is important and very emotionally charged, doing it this way makes the balance so much easier so I am not overwhelmed. I am able to honor the space I hold for my clients because I take time to honor myself.

I am grateful for connection, both inside and outside.

I am grateful for stormy weather. Our Florida summers would be too much for me to handle if it was not for the glorious storms we get every afternoon. I am an overcast-70-degree-weather kind of person. 99 degrees and sunny is torture. I have to keep my blinds drawn and create a cave within my home to manage the relentless heat and light. Then come 3 or 4 o’clock I get the much needed break via a dark cloudy storm.

I am grateful for my path and my truth and the woman I am and the woman I was and all the women I have ever been or will ever be. This life and all things in it that I have so much gratitude for are here and possible because one day I woke up and decided I was ready. I was ready to be me, and do my work, and hold myself sacred. For this and every good thing that has come from it, I am grateful.

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Intuitive Empath

My therapist referred to me as clairvoyant this week. Let that sink in. That right there is why I haven’t really been writing this week. I have been sitting with that label and trying it on for size.

I identify as an INFP which are traditionally intuitive empaths, two more labels that I also identify with. I am an introvert, highly sensitive, artistic, introspective. There are a lot of labels that I do identify with that dance around this area that feels a bit other worldly in my opinion. Clairvoyant though?

Here is the truth: I knew she was right when she said it. That does not mean I am ready to step into this truth and own it. I feel isolated enough at times because the way I experience the world and people and relationships is a bit outside of the norm thanks to all those labels I listed above that apply to me. If I start calling myself clairvoyant that just increases the gap between me and the rest of the world, at least that is how it feels.

Here is another truth: I love to hermit. So this isolation that I am complaining about is not actually something that bothers me that much.. AND there are pieces of me that still need outside connection on a level that prevents me from fully stepping into my power, whatever that power is.

Here is what I am doing with all of this right now: I am practicing truth speaking in front of others more regularly. Real truth speaking not just speaking assertively about my preferences and boundaries, this truth speaking is coming from my highly intuitive space which means it might be a language that some do not even fully understand AND that is okay. My therapist is encouraging me to stand in this truth more often and take up space and work on getting comfortable with the fact that not everyone will get it AND that is okay, I do not have to edit myself for the comfort of others.

I am starting here, in my writing space, my safe space, because I am scared and I feel the need to start small.

Here is another reason I am not ready to fully step into this truth quite yet: not all of my visions/premonitions/intuitive knowings are positive. In fact many times I do not know if what I am seeing/knowing is positive or negative, I don’t know until events play out. Sometimes though it is very clear and it is clearly negative. If I stand in this truth that means I have to be willing to accept and acknowledge that I know/see things that will negatively impact myself and others without have control to change the outcome. That is more than I am ready for.

So between not being ready to truly stand in my power out of fear for what it is and fear for the outside disconnection it may cause; I am here. Here in an in-between. An in-between like none I have ever experienced previously. Like all my in-betweens though I am thankful for this time, the time of infinite possibilities where the outcome is not yet know so all possible outcomes can exist together.

 

 

Bookstores and Compost

Have you ever had a day where you think, Gosh why can’t I be this person all the time? Today was one of those days for me. I would totally be willing to live today over again a few times without complaint.

I had a lot planned today, then I woke up and realized I wasn’t going to be able to show up for my life that way today. I cancelled my plans and went back to bed where I read my book for an hour next to my husband and pup.

When hubs and I got up we decided to go to a local park/shopping district not far from our home. We had lunch on a restaurant patio and then walked through the park, me stopping at each planter to feel tree trunks and smell flowers.

We sat on a bench for a few minutes and people watched while talking. We were near one of the planters and watched all the bumble bees hover from flower to flower. I was convinced the flowers must smell amazing, I stooped down to smell when we left our bench and was disappointed to smell nothing at all.

From our bench we also watched lizards catching insects for lunch.

The weather began to turn and we knew we did not want to leave without first visiting the little bookstore in the alley so we moved along. We wandered around the bookstore, my husband pointing out titles he knew I would enjoy.

As we walked back to the car the wind picked up and sky grew dark. It was the perfect introvert day out. The sun was concealed behind the clouds which meant reprieve for my pale blue eyes and for once I was able to be outside in daytime without sunglasses. When the storm blew in everyone took cover giving us the park to ourselves as we walked quiet and blissful back to the car.

On the way home we stopped at the grocery where I found the most beautiful mini heirloom tomatoes which inspired our dinner this evening.

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We collected the rest of our groceries and headed home where I got to work making soup. I started with the carrots, the celery, and the onions. I rough chopped and put them in the pot with lemon juice and sprigs of left over rosemary and thyme from when I made my summer solstice cookies. I let this steep until the vegetables and lemon juice were infused with the herbs. The steam filled every corner of our home with the inviting smell of herbs and lemon.

While my base steeped I went outside and joined hubs and Lu in the front yard. He was doing yard work and she was laying in the shade of a tree on a blankie in the front yard. I picked up my push broom and started sweeping cut grass and leaves from the driveway (one of my favorite chores).

When I was chopping I was left with nubby ends of celery stalks and carrot tops, I started talking to hubs and asked if I could start a compost pile in the backyard. To my absolute delight he said Yes without hesitation! This led to a conversation about gardening.

I have wanted (and tried) to garden since we moved into our home years ago. I have failed. Every single time I have failed. And with every fail has come emotional fall out. It has been my desire since I was a girl digging up radishes in my parent’s bountiful backyard garden to one day have a vegetable and herb garden of my very own. My life would feel incomplete no different than if I missed out on my dream of becoming a therapist, or being a mother, or traveling to see the great sequoia trees in California. There are somethings in my life that I know I am called to do and be, and a gardener is absolutely one of them.

My husband has been patient while not overly indulgent. He has bought me basil and cilantro, helped with my lavender and marigolds. Yet over and over I experience the same result: sad dead plants. He gave me plenty of room to try and then he set a line. The rule was I had to keep an herb plant alive for at least a month before I could graduate to a vegetable plant and if I was successful with the vegetable plant then we could begin to discuss a garden. My hopes have really been dashed I must say. None of it worked out. And so for now I have been buying my produce from the grocery like everyone else and dreaming of a garden that may never exist.

When I mentioned the idea of a compost pile I did so timidly, sure to be shot down, because after all to agree to a compost pile would possibly mean being open to my one day garden. I did not think he was willing to entertain any of this at this point. My sweet husband proved me wrong and I could not be more grateful.

He was completely behind the compost pile, from a recycling/conservation perspective, and informed me that the city will even provide the composter free of charge – Hooray!! Then he said that we could buy a pack of inexpensive seeds once our soil was ready and try again, from scratch this time so I would not be killing anything but instead growing something.

I think that feels more right to me anyway. Maybe I should have been starting there all along. I am a girl of shadows who has bloomed and grown from dark places, that is my magic, that is my gift. I am sure that I can plant a seed in the dark with love and intention and help it bloom and grow from that dark place. I am sure I can, I am just sure of it.

After some yard work we came back in and I fished the herby sprigs out of the soup base. Then I collected the remnants of soup ingredients and created my very first contribution to our compost pile.

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I am starting a pile in the backyard while I wait for our composter to be delivered.

After dinner we rented The Zoo Keeper’s Wife, a movie based on a book that I am sad to say I was unable to finish after 10+ years of ownership and multiple attempts. I just do not like the way it is written. I do, however, like the actual story. I am so glad they made it a movie so I can finally experience this story. I do not know how it ends as I never got that far.

It was a good day. One for the books as far as I am concerned. I am grateful for this day.