Making Space and Counting Gratitude

We are in the process of doing a deep cleanse of our home; we have been going through rooms one by one and taking inventory of our “stuff”, anything that no longer holds meaning, or a purpose, or serves us in some way is being released to make room for what comes next – whatever that might be.

We are also creating a home that works for us as we currently are. That means having a dedicated play area for little bubby that is separate from where he sleeps, a guestroom that has room to store baby things for possible next baby, a living area for adults (namely my husband and I) that is clear of baby things, and a dedicated art space for momma and family to create in.

We are getting there.

Tonight my husband is re-purposing a bookshelf from the guestroom as a toy and art supply storage shelf in the sunroom turned playroom and art studio. I am looking forward to setting up this room officially and finding a spot for everything.

While I create art throughout the week as I have snatches of time – during little bubby nap time, in the evening before bed, on the weekends when my husband is spending daddy time with little bubby – Friday night is my dedicated time for art each week. My husband plays table tennis every Friday night once little bubby is in bed and I have the house to myself for 3 or 4 hours to set myself free quietly creating.

I look forward to Friday night each week. I love that my husband and I both have something outside of each other, outside of parenthood and the responsibilities of life, that belong just to ourselves.

I am sitting in a lot of gratitude this morning. Gratitude for the ways in which little bubby’s arrival into our life and our home has created such intention in the way my husband and I are living as well as how we are choosing to show up in the world. His birth put so much into perspective for us. I am grateful for my husband who is always ALL IN with me. I may lead the charge but he is always ALL IN and we have experienced so much amazing growth together as a result. I am most grateful for this life I get to call my very own. I cherish it and all the love it holds. It is a good life, so so good.

 

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Getting Creative: Creative Communication

Another space where my husband and I have been embracing the creative energy coursing through our home since the birth of little bubby is in how we communicate.

First we introduced the conversation cup. The conversation cup is our vessel for holding conversations we need to circle back to in order to honor what needs to be addressed with the appropriate space and time. Sometimes we use the conversation cup because we are in the middle of a conversation that is going south and we need to step back and gain perspective in order to continue towards connection. Sometimes we use the conversation cup to hold a topic we know needs more time than the thirty minutes we have together in the morning, it lets us jot down our key points and come back to it when there is enough time to honor everything that needs to be expressed.

The conversation cup holds hurt feelings, misunderstandings, truths not yet spoken, dreams, ideas, love.. Above all the conversation cup is about connection because our communication is about connection. We strive to always stay on each other’s team, when it starts to feel like we are not on the same team we know it is time for a break, to call in the conversation cup, and come back to whatever it is when we know we are both in a better place to hold whatever it is together.

This is us getting creative in our communication and for us it works.

Another area where we have recently gotten creative in how we communicate is related to expressions of gratitude.

We were already practicing gratitude with one another but not regularly enough to consistently keep scarcity at bay. We were experiencing scarcity in different ways; I was experiencing scarcity related to support with little bubby and my husband was experiencing scarcity related to time.

Here’s the thing, scarcity is a liar. It is an illusion. That is my truth at least. Scarcity shows up to tell tales of not-enough and it is important when I hear those whispers creeping up from dark places that I remember my truth: Who I am is enough. What I have is enough. What I do is enough. I am grateful. I am love.

What we have started doing to enhance our connection even further and really lean into the abundance of our love is writing down our daily gratitude for one another.

We have a dry erase board on the refrigerator that we mainly use to jot down items we need at the grocery and track little bubby’s feeding/napping schedule; last week I drew a heart on the board and underneath it I wrote folding your blanket and putting it away. 

In our home everyone has their own snuggle blanket for movies etc and my husband sometimes forgets to fold his and put it away. That day he didn’t and I appreciated it. I was afraid I would forget to tell him by the end of the day so I left him the note on the board. What started as a way for me to make sure my Mom-Brain remembered to thank my husband for a small thing I appreciated him doing has turned into a daily practice now.

My husband and I both have hearts on the board in different colors; he writes my notes in purple, I write his in green, and everyday we express our love and gratitude for what the other person is doing.

It helps us both feel seen, appreciated, connected to our intention as a family and in our marriage. There is no room for scarcity when love and gratitude occupy such a large space in our home.

We are both doing things we have never done in any previous relationship, romantic or otherwise. We are allowing our love for one another and our intuition guide us and amazing things are taking place.

My husband and I are not small. We are big, we have wings. Our babies will know how to fly, they will know how to love, they will know they are lovable – we are showing them.

I am grateful for this man whom I get to call my partner. I am grateful for the little soul who chose us and breathed new life into a love that already felt big. I am grateful to have found my wings, I am grateful to be using them. I was never meant to stay small on an unstable branch, I was always meant to fly.

conversation cup

Getting Creative: Marriage After Baby

Before I start this post I just have say, it feels so good to be home. I am bursting with inspiration and ready to write.

So, tapping into my creative self since the birth of our son has gone beyond just my relationship with little bubby, it has also come into play in my relationship with my husband.

I am grateful for our solid foundation and deep roots now more than ever because first time parenting, especially in the first few weeks/months, is HARD. It is also wonderful and joyous and a lot of other positive things but I am not here to talk about the joy and wonder this time, just the hard.

It is hard to function on 5 hours of severely interrupted sleep.
It is hard when every ounce of patience you possess is being funneled into your baby and you have little to none left over for anyone/anything else.
It is hard when your body feels irreversibly broken and you are still expected to function, at least enough to feed and comfort baby.
It is hard when you are not the only one struggling but you are struggling so hard that the thought of holding space for your spouse’s struggle seems an impossible ask.
It is hard when you do not feel in control of you emotions.
It is hard when you are still feeling traumatized by the experience of birth.
It is hard, so hard.

My husband was outstanding. He took such good of care of me during labor, delivery, and recovery. He allowed me to experience love on an entirely new level, a depth of which there are no words for. I am grateful every single day that we chose each other to walk this path with, there is no one I would rather be doing this with. AND it is still hard.

My husband has given me much appreciated feedback about how well I am doing and how much he appreciates me. AND I am certain he would agree, it is still hard.

I know now that parenting is not for the faint of heart. It has absolutely tested us and I am quite sure it will continue to test us individually as humans, together as parents, and as a couple.

We were home for two weeks when the displacing started.

Let’s be real, newborns are intense, it is stressful and we were not going to take that stress out on the baby (even though he was absolutely the source) because;

  1. He is a baby
  2. He is just doing exactly what he is supposed to – this period of time was hard for him too.

My husband and I are usually pretty good about holding ourselves accountable for our thoughts/feelings and not displacing and projecting on each other. That started to go out the window because of the HARD I outlined above that we were dealing with.

Our communication began to devolve into sarcasm, eye rolling, heavy sighs, closed body language, biting remarks. This is not us.

It only took a few days for us to carve out time to process our feelings together and get back on the same page. Once time for connection and truth about the struggle was made it got easier. Having a partner in struggle does make it easier.

This is what creativity in our relationship has looked like:

In the early months we made time multiple times a week to share where we were both at with our struggle. We held space for ourselves and each other without judgment and the connection created was EVERYTHING. Now we have check ins as needed and offer support as needed.

My husband and I do not discuss “adult topics” in front of bubby. That means family issues, politics, issues we are having with one another. It includes pretty much anything that would elicit a heavy energy. Babies are super sensitive to energy changes and emotional states, we do our best to keep our home calm and peaceful for bubby.

It would be easy to just stop talking all together because by the end of the day we are worn out and just want to flop, not fall into a deep discussion. As a way to hold ourselves accountable for the health of our relationship and to keep from bottling anything that needs a voice we created a conversation cup. It is an over-sized tea cup that has a pen and sticky notes in it, we write down anything that is not appropriate to discuss while bubby is awake so we can come back to it after he is asleep.

The conversation cup is great for a few reasons.

  1. It holds us accountable
  2. It allows us to insert a pause when needed. If we bump heads over something we acknowledge that we need to discuss the issue further later and then we are left to hold our feelings about the issue without displacing. It is delayed gratification essentially. How easy is it to get annoyed with your spouse and immediately react? We have found our conflict resolution is way better because there is a calm down period before we come back to the grievance, at that point we are able to process without being too stirred up.
  3. It is a physical vessel holding our worries, troubles, etc. so we are not walking around all day with heavy hearts and cluttered minds. We are free to engage intentionally with bubby and each other since we are not weighed down.  All the while knowing we will have our time to process and connect – nothing is being left unsaid, it is just being given its time and place.

Physical connection definitely changes after baby too. I was worried intimacy would be unpleasant after giving birth but my truth is, I am loving intimacy after baby. I am incredibly grateful for that truth. We have had to get creative in this area as well but like all other areas of our relationship, the creativity has given way to deeper connection.

I think the reason that last statement is true is because it is an incredibly vulnerable thing to allow yourself to be creative. To step outside of the box, embrace a different way of doing things, to allow yourself to be seen. This is where connection truly takes place.

All this creative energy that has been infused into our life has inspired my husband and I to start taking bigger steps towards being creative in other aspects of life. I believe creativity is what brought me home to Adding to Nine. There is so much creative energy flowing in our home right now it is overflowing.

I am grateful for the ways in which we have called creativity into our life and the opportunities we now have to fully stand in our light and be seen.

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.

compost

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.

 

Exploited

Today was a day let me tell you! Not only did I have this self-care experience that ended up being the antithesis of self-care, my husband and I had one of our relationship check-in conversations and in doing so we identified a shadow that we are each showing up in, in our relationship; exploitation. I was not in the mood to get to know a new shadow today. This was not the day for this. I was so emotionally spent from my earlier experience I just wanted to spend the rest of the night writing, and meditating, and maybe even painting as a way for me to process and release the energy from earlier. I still plan to do all of those things, and I am even as we speak, however now I am working through the emotions from early and the emotions surfacing that are attached to this new shadow.

When a new shadow presents itself it arrives with lots of emotional luggage. The first suitcase to unpack is always shame. I have to sit in my shame with the ways in which I show up in my life and exploit others, specifically and especially those whom I love most.

This shadow surfaced in a conversation my husband and I were having in order to clear the air after an exchange last night resulted in hurt feelings.

We were honest, took turns being heard and empathizing, and then talked about what boundaries needed to exist going forward to avoid further incident. Rather than instate new boundaries it was more an issue of being mindful of boundaries that already existed and respecting ourselves and each other with concern to those boundaries.

What we both realized as we closed up the conversation is that we both show up in our relationship and use/take advantage of one another in the relationship. We were both clear that this exploitation that takes place is done with nonmalicious intent, it is happening none the less though and it was time to shine some light on this shadow.

For both of us exploitation shows up in places where we don’t feel like doing something so we use the other person to get that need met. It is attached to the shadow of avoidance for both of us.

Our work here as it pertains to our relationship is for both of us to speak up when we feel the other person operating from this shadow. Personally my work is to invite these two shadow pieces home, avoidance and exploitation, and get to know them better. My work with my shadows is always to seek to understand their motivations from a place of objective nonjudgement, and then working on building a relationship with them ultimately shining the light of self-love upon them.

It all sounds pretty and whimsical, it feels more like trying to hug an unwilling porcupine in the dark.

This is where I am tonight though. Trying to separate myself from my experience early so I can where I exist in this place of disconnection I encountered AND welcoming in my shadows of exploitation and avoidance.

You Can Tell Everybody This is Your Song

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A very special part of mine and my husband’s love story is the part where he asked and I said yes.

When my husband and I first began communicating online I made it clear that I wanted to take things slow and get to know him through email before meeting up. My husband respected this boundary and one month later when I asked him out on our first date he asked, are you sure you are ready? and I said Yes. My husband never made a single decision without me whether it was surrounding our first kiss or moving in together. He always asked and I said Yes.

I love this man because he has always understood that love is not about taking, it is about asking. Something I believe many people do not do because to ask is to allow yourself to be vulnerable, you have no promise of the outcome. That never stopped him though. He always asked. My kind of love is vulnerable. It is honest, without armor, it is built on trust. Trust that when you are standing there naked in your vulnerability asking, the one that you love will not leave you stranded, even if the answer is not yes. There can be love in answering No as well. Sometimes that love comes from within, it is how we show up in our self love. Self love does not take away from the love of the other which is why there is love in answering No as well.

In our story more often than not when he asks I say yes, and we both know that when we do say No that is coming from a place of love as well. What is important and what makes this love story special is not the reply but the fact the he asked.

I love this man because he has always understood that love is not about taking, it is about asking.

The song lyric that popped into my head when I first considered writing this post was I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you’re in the world.

If you ever read this, you can tell everybody this is your song.